Our People Our Community
Bart Lamb is a familiar name in and around Riverbend, but not many may know that he has lived in our community since 1988, owning nine Riverbend homes over those years.
Bart was the Riverbend Community Association’s President from 1991-1993 and was instrumental in the building of our community centre.
The development of the hall happened in two phases:
First, was fundraising through bingos and casinos that raised about $350,000, and second was obtaining a matching grant. With that, the hall was built in the early 90s.
The association at the time was restricted in some of the buildings features, Bart explained. For example, it could not have a second floor and the size of the structure was limited to the building pocket (maximum width a building can be on a certain lot) due to the utility right of way.
The basement was developed a few years later.
Bart has not only lived in Riverbend for a long time, he’s worked here too. Many residents might recognize his face from bus stop ads. It’s always been my intention to live and work in Riverbend, he said. Bart’s favourite thing about living in Riverbend is its proximity to the parks and the fact that it’s a central location in Calgary.
It is really rewarding to be involved with the community.He noted that it was good to see many young families at the most recent community meeting.
Aaron Weiss is the Lead Pastor at Mission Hill Church that meets at the Riverbend Community Centre. And while the church has tripled in size over the past three years, its goal has always been to be a good neighbour and to help meet the needs of the community.
From minor projects like painting walls in the hall, or providing manpower to help run community events, to bigger projects like upgrading the community centre’s technology, Aaron said his main hope is that the church can come alongside the community to help enhance the area.
“We want to treat it like it’s our home because the community centre is, but it’s not just for us… we want to show the love of Jesus with what we do, and so we really just want to help make the community better, and that way we are in alliance with the community association.”
A born and raised Calgarian, Aaron, began his career in landscaping that bloomed from when, as a teenager, Aaron and his brother went around the neighbourhood with lawn mowers which led to a small lawn-maintenance and landscaping business that Aaron carried for 12 years. The flexibility of that job allowed Aaron to find his passion in the church. He’s been in full-time ministry for 12 years now.
When asked why Mission Hill chose Riverbend to be its home, Aaron said he noticed that there was no church within the communities of Riverbend, Douglasdale, or Quarry Park. And while people could commute elsewhere, there seemed to be no churches nearby that could serve these communities specifically.
Aaron, along with his wife Rachael and their twin daughters, has a passion to serve the Riverbend community. Aaron says he desires Mission Hill to be more than just the church that meets in Riverbend.
“A community church aims to make its community better by pouring itself out into the community,” he said.
In addition to organizing events such as the Family Skate days, the church also puts on a movie nights and hosts the Alpha course. Long term the church would like to create more kids programming for the community, supports for new moms, and desires to do so alongside the community association.
“We don’t want to do be competing when we can do it better together,” said Aaron. “We love the fact that we have a good relationship with the community.”
David and Linda McWilliam
Meet the McWilliams - RCA’s first community members!
Think back to 1988 - “Faith” by George Michael was the number one song on the radio, Calgary was hosting the Olympics, and Riverbend Community was just beginning to develop and grow.
During this year, a milestone event happened for Riverbend Community Association (RCA) when residents David and Linda McWilliam purchased a lifetime membership to the RCA, marking the very first membership purchased.
The McWilliams moved to Riverbend from a small community formerly called Riverglen that laid just west of the Ogden Safeway. They loved the area and David ran his land surveying business in Riverbend, so they didn’t want to move far. When the Riverbend community was being built nearby, David and Linda couldn’t think of another place they’d rather live and retire.
Shortly after moving in, community volunteers were going door-to-door selling annual memberships. The McWilliams liked what they heard and bought lifetime membership one on the spot.
When asked why he thinks community membership is important, David said he believes every household should have one, and encourages anyone considering a membership not to hesitate. It’s a way of showing pride in your community, he said.
Over the years, David and Linda have worked at many fundraisers to help finance the construction of the community centre among other community initiatives, and they also helped set up a Block Watch program. During David’s chairmanship, about 90 per cent of Riverbend was looked after by volunteer block captains and residents were able to enjoy security and safety information nights.
While Riverbend has changed a lot in the last 31 years, the one thing that hasn’t changed for the McWilliams is its feeling of home.
However, one notable change the McWilliams have enjoyed is the addition of Carburn Park.
“We have seen a family of owls raised there for two years, numerous deer and families of geese annually. We have seen baby skunks, baby rabbits and baby beavers. We skate there and have picnicked there,” said David.
“We wouldn’t have enjoyed living anywhere else as much as we enjoy living here [in Riverbend]. Not all communities are as lucky as we are to have these natural areas so close.”