The Suburbs Move to City Centre in Calgary

I have lived in Calgary's city centre for over 20 years and observed the evolution of the different communities from cottage houses to new urban communities with a mix of residential homes.  During that time I have also visited many city centres in cities across North America from Portland to Ottawa from Vancouver to Miami. While I have seen some infill homes (the removal of an old cottage home to create one or two new homes) nowhere have I seen anything on the scale of what has been happening in Calgary's city centre.  

In every community within 10 km of the downtown Calgary there is an infill under construction on nearly  every block. Literally hundreds of new homes are being built in the city centre, in addition to hundreds of new condos in mid and high-rise towers. 

The infill homes are on the same scale as the homes in the suburbs starting at  2,000+sf of living space and two car garage.  More and more young families are moving into the communities revitalizing them. I recently looked at the civic census and over 4,500 children and teens live in the north-side city centre communities alone where a lot of the infilling is happening. These communities have great access to elementary Jr highhigh schools  and three post secondary schools, as well as major hospital and children's hospital. 

While Calgary is often criticized for its large carbon footprint is probably the most contiguous urban region in North America with few edge cities and one of the most dense city centres with respect to commercial and residential development.

The following are some photos I took on my morning walk today. 

 

I had to take a second look when I turned on to this Hillhurst street in Calgary's thriving city centre.  At first glance you would think it is a parade of show homes in a new suburb 20+km from downtown. But no this is just one of many streets with multiple infill homes being built within 5 km of dowtown. 

While most of the old homes get torn down some are recycled and repurposed like this one. 

Further along the same street are some older infills with mature gardens like this one. Reminds me of my recent walks through Chicago's Gold Coast community.  

I love the diversity of design and materials. No cookie cutter homes here. However there is the twin phenomena i.e. when lot divided two homes of similar  design get built so it looks like a series of twins. 

I love the diversity of design and materials. No cookie cutter homes here. However there is the twin phenomena i.e. when lot divided two homes of similar  design get built so it looks like a series of twins. 

Strollers, bikes and trikes are a common site on the front lawns and verandas. There is also often chalk art on the sidewalk. Playgrounds in these communities have all had mega makeovers to become family gathering places. 

Strollers, bikes and trikes are a common site on the front lawns and verandas. There is also often chalk art on the sidewalk. Playgrounds in these communities have all had mega makeovers to become family gathering places. 

There is even a new sense of design emerging that incorporates sloped roof lines that reflect the old prairie grain elevator and the jagged rocky mountains.  This house also has an alley home at the back .  

There is even a new sense of design emerging that incorporates sloped roof lines that reflect the old prairie grain elevator and the jagged rocky mountains.  This house also has an alley home at the back .  

A neighbour's backyard becomes the kid's personal playground just like in the suburbs.

One of the many upgraded playgrounds in Calgary's City Centre.  No home is more than a few blocks from a playground.  

The Bow View pool is one of many family amenities in Calgary's City Centre.  

The Riley Park wading pool is park is a summer oasis for young families.  Calgary has over 5,000 parks and 700 km of pathways with the City Centre being the hub.  

Other blogs that might be of interest: 

Calgary: City of Parks & Pathways   

Urban Cottage Living & Gentrification