Calgary researches downtown revitalization strategies

Calgary is hoping to draw crowds and investment back to its downtown core.

University of Calgary experts are helping research downtown revitalization strategies. – University of Calgary

Key Takeaways:

  • Calgary is helping fund research into creative downtown revitalization.
  • Research will be conducted by experts at the University of Calgary.
  • One of the next steps will be bringing in stakeholders like building owners, developers, policy makers and civic leaders to realize new projects. 

The Whole Story:

The city of Calgary is looking for more ways to breathe new life into its downtown core. 

The city will spend $350,000 on research as part of its partnership with the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape’s (SAPL) Civic Commons Catalyst Initiative at the University of Calgary. The funding will allow Civic Commons Catalyst researchers search innovative methods to spur economic revitalization in the downtown and transform underutilized spaces. The project is part of the Urban Alliance, a strategic partnership between the city and the University of Calgary.  

“The transformation of downtown Calgary will yield benefits citywide for generations to come,” said Terry Wong, city councillor. “We’re making an investment in the Civic Commons Catalyst because the University of Calgary brings both local and global expertise, along with a focus on innovation and the use of data and research to help address urgent issues Calgarians face daily.”

With the funding, the city and SAPL’s Center for Civilization will proceed to new phase of the Civic Commons Catalyst partnership with a focus on transforming underutilized public and private space. The city noted that it has placed a priority on this area of work through its office to residential conversion program, projects that are exploring how public space is utilized on Stephen Avenue and 8 Street S.W., and working with community organizations to activate and program public space.

“While it is the whole of civilization that finds itself at a critical inflection point, it is cities where these challenges will unfold. Therefore, cities must be the fulcrum upon which bold solutions are found,” said Alberto de Salvatierra, director of the Center for Civilization and assistant professor at SAPL.

As SAPL comes up with ideas, they will make recommendations to the city’s downtown strategy team. City officials said that bringing in stakeholders like building owners, developers, policy makers and civic leaders is the next step, and facilitates the potential of realizing these projects. 

“This research partnership exemplifies the University of Calgary’s commitment to our community and the critical importance that design-based research plays in the shaping of great cities and societies. Downtown Calgary is facing unprecedented challenges from high vacancy rates and social vulnerability that is affecting the quality of life in our city,” says Ed McCauley, University of Calgary president and vice-chancellor. “The Civic Commons Catalyst reframes these problems to show how underutilized spatial assets can become opportunities for social, economic, and environmental innovation. It is an important example of how great universities and great cities can work together.”


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