Time to revitalize Calgary’s downtown? It is not our first rodeo


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Postmedia Calgary is publishing a particular report this week, known as Downtown Turnaround, aimed toward discussing the issues, options and successes associated to revitalizing town’s core. Constructing a greater downtown, nonetheless, is nothing new. Calgary has seen many plans and concepts come and go, with some even being carried out over the many years. Right here’s a have a look at just a few of these concepts, as detailed in archived pages of the Calgary Herald and different newspapers of the day.

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In 1914, Calgary as a metropolis was 30 years previous and metropolis corridor determined it was time this little metropolis on the prairies get gussied up. They employed a well-known British metropolis planner named Thomas Mawson to create some slightly fantastical sketches that might have led to Calgary turning into the “Vienna” of North America.

Whereas the stately development of a proposed new civic centre (as seen within the above sketch) by no means occurred, the Mawson plan did give rise to different necessary instructions for downtown’s future together with wider roads, a brand new market, extra parks, plans for future improvement of a avenue railway system, “buying centres,” and a banning of stockyards inside metropolis limits.


As town grew, so did visitors plans. Metropolis corridor thought-about a variety of downtown concepts to alleviate visitors congestion, however the suggestion of implementing one-way streets was the course that appeared to achieve probably the most traction.

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Calgary Herald, Nov. 6, 1926
Calgary Herald, Nov. 6, 1926


Parking issues have been plaguing Calgary’s downtown in 1937. Companies complained that folks would park in entrance of their retailers for hours at a time, blocking entry for customers, and residents have been involved that theatre-goers have been utilizing all of the spots in entrance of their houses, forcing owners to park blocks away from their very own homes at evening. A committee was fashioned to create a “mass parking plan.”


The seed of an concept was planted: Dialogue started about closing off eighth Avenue to visitors — the world we all know at present as Stephen Avenue Mall. Calgary’s mayor on the time, Donald Mackay, known as the thought “daring and daring.” Site visitors can be banned, he advised. The thought of turning a roadway right into a pedestrian-only walkway was controversial on the time.  It could be known as a “mall.”

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Calgary Herald, March 29, 1956
Calgary Herald, March 29, 1956


By 1966, metropolis corridor realized the significance of getting a technique for the core, so it launched a grasp plan known as “The Way forward for Downtown Calgary.” Dozens of planners spent 18 months to develop the $72 million resculpting of downtown. Speedy transit tubes may enable downtown employees to be whisked out and in of the core, the plan advised. A shopping center, consisting of a sequence of open plazas and squares, might be constructed. New bridges can be wanted and improvement of the west finish of downtown and Eau Claire can be key, as would riverbank beautification on either side of the Bow. The plan stated, “By 1986 . . . downtown Calgary will belong to the pedestrian, who will most likely go away his vehicle at residence and journey by way of fast transit.”

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A significant push occurred in 1980, when folks realized downtown was turning into overly centered on metal and glass towers, with not sufficient emphasis on folks and parks. Among the concepts from the 1980 plan by no means got here to fruition, akin to a big botanical park, whereas others took root, together with prohibition of economic improvement on Prince’s Island Park. Right here’s a have a look at a particular report on that 1980 plan from the Calgary Herald, 42 years in the past.


In 2009, the Metropolis of Calgary launched its imaginative and prescient for progress known as “Plan It.” The plan estimated there’d be 2.3 million folks dwelling in Calgary by the 12 months 2070, with many new concentrations of housing sprouting up near transit. The plan estimated 73 per cent of that inhabitants can be dwelling inside 600 metres of transit, with stops each 10 minutes, 15 hours a day. Builders and others expressed considerations: “They need the entire metropolis to maneuver into concrete towers that frankly no person’s going to be constructing for a very long time,” stated Richard Priest, senior vice-president of Apex Restricted Partnership, the developer of suburbs like Royal Oak, Kincora and Citadel.


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