The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

The city, residents, land developers and urban groups are combining to define how Calgary's main streets will be like 60 years in the future

Photograph 4THUMBResidents, community organizations, developers and city planners are among the stakeholders joining to envision the future of Calgary's main corridors.

The first phase of the Main Streets project started in November. The city, using workshops, events and online engagement with all stakeholders, is looking to identify issues, opportunities and potential outcomes with the new redevelopment plan.

"Many of the changes in our community are happening without much concern in our main streets... It is good (City Hall) is listening to us," said Nancy Tice, a resident of Cliff Bungalow-Mission, at a workshop with stakeholders about 4th Street S.W. redevelopment on Nov. 20.

"This is not another fairytale planning exercise," said Ward 8 Councillors Evan Woolley, during the workshop. "The planning department, in a very exciting way, is investing a lot of recourses into this."

In the workshop, the city planners and transportation and heritage experts facilitated stakeholders to give their ideas. The city will bring similar workshops to the remaining communities surrounding the 24 main corridors of the city that were identified by the Calgary Municipal Master Plan.

"We don't have a full understanding of each corridor," said Kevin Burton, a senior planner with the city of Calgary. "We want to know the local needs of residents on each corridor."

Main streets and the city's master plan

In May of 2014, City Council approved the main street initiative to study the future of the main corridors, like 17th Avenue, Centre Street and Edmonton Trail, as part of the city's master plan.

In the summer, a pilot project was launched with the communities around 36 Street N.W. and 

Infographic 1WEB24 main streets were identified by city hall in the Calgary Municipal Master Plan after discussion with various key community players.

Infographic courtesy of the City of Calgary
Bowness Road N.W.

"When we started there was some tension from communities," said Burton. "People didn't know what to expect, but after the pilot project showed results, this tension dissipated."

The initiative is divided into three phases, each phase expected to last six months — with the entire project taking two years.

Phase one will collect information from all stakeholders, phase two will do a market analysis with the information collected and in phase three the city will implement and continue developing an ongoing strategy for the main corridors.

"We spend many years developing in our suburbs in very unsustainable fashions," said Woolley. "These corridors are going to be key pieces to know how to increase our density in a sustainable way."

Woolley said that last year 40,000 people moved into Calgary, and the way to house them is by increasing the density in the city's corridors. According to Woolley, Cliff Bungalow-Mission has much of the new acquired density in Calgary.

All stakeholders have been positive about the project, including developers and landowners, explained Burton. "This project is helping to create guidelines to reduce the barriers for redevelopment," said Burton. "We are cutting red tape for developers."

Cliff Bungalow — Mission's vision for its future

Over 45 people assisted in the Nov. 20 workshop to get input on the future of 4th Street S.W. and its surrounding community of Cliff Bungalow-Mission. City of Calgary developers, heritage and transportation experts facilitated the event.

Participants were glad that the city was looking for their opinion.

The workshop was a giant brainstorming session where the city asked for issues, opportunities and potential outcomes with the development of the main street project.

Among the main issues shared by the community was the need to preserve the heritage of the area, the loss of urban forestry, lack of adequate parking, lack of affordable housing and lack of urban spaces.

Among the opportunities and potential outcomes identified by the workshop were the creation of multi-use buildings. The transfer of the density of the heritage building to other areas, the designation of new heritage places, the change of the guidelines on urban forestry and the promotion of the concept of an urban village in Cliff Bungalow-Mission.

"The city is largely limited in many of these issues," said Burton, a senior planner for the city. "There isn't much that cities can do because the province rules over private land."

Areas like urban forestry in private land and development of affordable housing are ruled by provincial policy. However, Burton is optimistic that many of these issues will be addressed when the new charter for big cities is finally implemented.

Remaining communities surrounding main corridors will be able to hold similar events soon. For information on next events please visit calgary.ca/mainstreets