Airdrie: The Drivable City

Unlike Calgary’s other satellite cities - Cochrane, Canmore, High River, Okotoks and Strathmore - Airdrie doesn’t have a traditional downtown Main Street lined with historical buildings that once  were (and in some cases still are) shops, banks, hotels, pubs, post office, City Hall and Court House lining the sidewalk. 

Rather, Airdrie’s downtown Main Street is lined with free surface parking next to the sidewalk. The shops (including a grocery store) and services (City Hall, Library and Medical Centre) are all set back from the sidewalk in suburban, strip mall fashion.  It is a bit like International Avenue along 17th Ave SE in Calgary. 

If you drive five minutes south (next to the lovely Nose Creek Pathway) or north along Main Street you arrive at two new power centers with the classic mix of big box retailers (restaurants, hardware and grocery stories) to meet resident’s everyday needs. 

  In 2007, six handcrafted totem poles were donated to the City of Airdrie by Gwacheon, Korea to commemorate the 10th year of sharing a sister city relationship. They are now located in Airdrie's  Gwacheon Park. 

In 2007, six handcrafted totem poles were donated to the City of Airdrie by Gwacheon, Korea to commemorate the 10th year of sharing a sister city relationship. They are now located in Airdrie's  Gwacheon Park. 

 Creative Airdrie is very active fostering art projects like this mural wall. 

Creative Airdrie is very active fostering art projects like this mural wall. 

Transit Oriented Development

But, if instead you walk a few blocks west from downtown, over the railway tracks and across Nose Creek environmental area, you arrive at what looks like a future Railtown.  Several new low-rise condo buildings sit next to the tracks, while across the street is a power centre with a Sobeys grocery store and other amenities including a Good Earth Cafe.  It is just waiting for a train station to be built to take commuters to and from  Calgary – yes, 25% of Airdrie’s workforce commutes from Calgary.

To help meet commuter needs, Airdrie currently has four very successful bus commuter routes.  One that links Airdrie workers to CrossIron Mills and McKnight LRT Station, two that are express routes to/from downtown Calgary (one from the east side and one from the west side) and an Airdrie to Crossfield route.  The City is also experimenting with a local transit service.

  QEII highway which links Alberta with Mexico divides Airdrie in half. 

QEII highway which links Alberta with Mexico divides Airdrie in half. 

Adapting To Families

While all the talk these days in the urban planning world is about making cities and new communities more walkable, cycleable and transit oriented, nobody is talking about how to make urban places more driveable.  We have walk scores and bike scores that measure a communities proximity to various amenities 5 or 10 minutes away by foot and pedal, but nothing that measures the amenities that are within a 5 or 10 minute drive.

In today’s busy world, of two income families with lots of extracurricular activities (parents and kids), walking and cycling is in reality, mostly a recreational activity, not a form of transportation.  Walking and/or cycling, as a part of everyday living is just not practical for the average family, no matter how close they are.  The automobile is not going the way of the dinosaur anytime soon, no matter what the urban evangelist say.

For Airdrie, it is even more critical that its urban design adapts to the needs of the families with young children - a whopping 24% of the population is under the age of 14 (16% in Calgary).

Having recently driven and walked around Airdrie, it seemed to me everybody lives within a 5-minute drive to one or more major grocery stores, probably the most important amenity to a growing family.  It also seemed the Rocky View School Division has been able to locate schools as needed in its new residential communities.

  Airdrie's Canada Day Parade

Airdrie's Canada Day Parade

  Airdrie's Festival of Lights

Airdrie's Festival of Lights

Place to play

Kudos to the City of Airdrie and Rocky View School Division for collaborated along East Lake Boulevard on the city’s east side by co-locating the Bert Church High School, Bert Church Theatre and Genesis Recreation Centre (Pool, Gyms, Twin Arenas and Fieldhouse) next to each other so the facilities can be shared.  This should be the model for every high school site in every region- also include a public library.  In the future, all school sites should be community/ meeting places. 

Airdrie boasts an ambitious schedule of annual family festivals - a Santa Claus Parade that attracts over 20,000 people (Calgary doesn’t have one), Festival of Lights (older than Calgary’s Zoolights), New Year’s Eve Fireworks, Canada Day Parade and Spring Music Festival (with over 400 musicians).  The Airdrie Pro Rodeo is one of the top 10 pro rodeos in Canada with $146,000 in prize money.

Today, Airdrie boasts 1,200 acres of parks, 104 km of pathways, 63 playgrounds and 5 off-leash dog parks.  For those who want to walk or bike, Airdrie has lovely pathways and parks along Nose Creek and the many canal communities in the city. Everybody is just 5 minutes away from a park, playground or a pathway.

The city also a thriving Farmers’ Market in Jensen Park, which was the site of the historic Jensen family farm - that’s authenticity.   Every Wednesday from June to Thanksgiving, from 3:30 to 7pm dozens of vendors sell fresh produce, food trucks serve up good grub and artists entertain, creating a fun, family food festival.

“Airdrie goes beyond the typical chain-only style of many bedroom communities. Certainly there is no shortage of chain restaurants in Airdrie but there are many high-quality independent places too such as Thai Charm, Abe’s Restaurant, Sushi Haru and Taj that satisfy a very sophisticated market,” says Calgary food and restaurant critic John Gilchrist.

Genesis Centre, Airdrie's Recreation Complex

Nose Hill Creek creates a pastoral setting in the middle of the city. 

Place to work

While most people think of Airdrie as a bedroom community of Calgary, in reality only about 50% of Airdrites work in Calgary.  Airdrie has over 20 companies that employ over 100 employees - Propak Systems Ltd. being the largest with 1,000 employees. 

One of the biggest employment sectors is the grocery industry (I counted 6 major grocery stores with another under construction - I may have missed one or two) currently employ over 2,500 people.

As well, Airdrie has 1,300 home businesses (out of 21,000 homes) partly as a result of an innovative program that proactively encourages the development of home-based businesses.  It consists of an online course for starting, running and growing a home business, as well as a mentorship program with an existing business leader.

Over that past 10 years, Airdrie’s commercial development has been growing as fast as its residential development as the ratio of commercial to residential tax assessment values has maintained its 17% commercial to 83% residential split.

Airdrie is more than just a bedroom city.

 Good Earth Cafe and patio part of a car-oriented big box power centre, is also walkable from several major condo complexes a block away. 

Good Earth Cafe and patio part of a car-oriented big box power centre, is also walkable from several major condo complexes a block away. 

 Modern new condo complexes a few blocks from downtown Airdrie. 

Modern new condo complexes a few blocks from downtown Airdrie. 

Airdrie At A Glance

It’s young: The median age group is 30-34 years of age, 83% of the population is under 65 years old with the majority, 64%, under 45 years old. The median age in Airdrie is 32.4 compared to Calgary (36.4) and Canada as a whole (40.2) years.

It’s growing very quickly: Airdrie is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada; population growth for the past sixteen years has exceeded 5.5%. Between the census years of 2006 and 2011, the population of Airdrie increased by 47.1%. The City is projected to grow a further 75% by 2030 to reach a population of 90,000.

It’s recent: Over half of Airdrie residents have lived in Airdrie for less than 5 years. According to 2014 survey, of those who have been at their residence for less than 1 year, 38% moved from Calgary and 32% from within Airdrie.

It’s mobile: Over 90% of Airdrie residents report that their primary mode of travel to work is single vehicle transportation (for Calgary its 72%. While a large number of residents commute to the City of Calgary for employment, 50% work within Airdrie or places other than Calgary.

(Source: Great Places Plan, 2016, City of Airdrie)

Last Word

It is important urban planners adapt their thinking to the needs of the contemporary family life, rather than expecting families to adapt to planner’s urban utopian ideals.

Kudos to Airdrie’s planners, politicians and business leaders for daring to be different, for embracing “driveability” as the key element to enhancing the quality of life for everyday living for its citizens.

An edited version of this blog appeared in the Fall Edition of Loving Airdrie magazine. 

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Calgary's Gravy Boat Has Sailed: Penny Tax vs Sales Tax

With this week's uproar by both the business community and home owners over property tax increases, Everyday Tourist looks at an alternative to property tax for raising funds for special projects that benefit a broad spectrum of the Calgarians. 

With Province and City’s free fall in revenues from loss of oil and gas tax revenue, as well as the loss of income tax revenue from rapidly increasing number of unemployed or part-time workers, and loss of business tax from all the empty office floors in downtown, the idea of a god-forbid Alberta Sales Tax has been suggested by many as a way to replace the lost dollars. 

I am pretty sure everyone knows what a sales tax is, but I doubt there are many who know what a penny tax is. Back in 2011, Calgary businessman George Brookman, CEO West Canadian Industries and Brian Felesky a founding partner in Felesky Flynn law firm, who now server on numerous corporate Boards, championed the idea of one penny tax on all goods and service, however unlike a sales tax the money raised must be used for specific projects. And the voters get to approve which projects it is used for and there is a limited time that the tax is in place, usually around five years. 

It was businessmen, not politicians who were suggesting the idea of a penny tax to pay for capital projects that would benefit a broad sector of the public - things like recreation centres, libraries, parks, transit, roads and museums.  

In 2011, with the energy sector generating billions of tax dollars every year, the idea of any new taxes just seemed like a tax grab.  Alberta and Calgary’s world has changed dramatically since 2011 and perhaps it is time to rethink the idea of a penny tax.

Calgary Stampede is currently developing its new Youth Campus as part of its master plan.  The next phase is the expansion of the BMO trade show building into a multi-purpose event centre. 

Oklahoma City Case Study

In 1993, Oklahoma City 54% of the voters decided to turn around their struggling city by approving a tax on themselves.  The program was called MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects Plan) and it generated $350 million towards nine projects that took ten years to complete. 

The projects included:

  • Renovations to the Civic Centre Music Hall
  • Renovations to the Cox Convention Centre
  • Renovations to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds
  • Construction of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
  • Construction of the Chesapeake Energy Arena
  • Construction of the Bricktown Canal (transformation of former warehouse district into and entertainment and recreational district)
  • Construction of Riverfront improvements including recreational dams, Boathouse district and headquarters for USA Canoe/Kayak and Rowing teams.
  • Construction of a new library
  • Development of the Oklahoma Spirit Trolley Network

Oklahoma City's Bricktown Ballpark

The program was such a success that in 2001 a MAPs for Kids was developed to raise $700 million over 10 years for initiatives to pay for repairs to 100 schools as well as to add new gyms. 

A third MAPS was approved in 2010 to raise $770 million from 2010 to 2017 to be used for:

  • New Convention Centre
  • New Downtown Festival Park
  • New streetcar system
  • New Senior Health and Wellness Centers in various buildings around the city.
  • Upgrades to the river train facilities
  • Fairground improvements
  • Expansion of trail system
  • Expansion of neighbourhood sidewalk (many communities in American cities have no sidewalks)

Festival Park in downtown Oklahoma City. 

Governance

 The MAPS revenue does not get lumped into the city’s tax revenue and managed by City bureaucrats but rather is collected and held independently.  The projects are managed a Board that consists of The Mayor, three bureaucrats, three Councillors and three citizens at larger. 

A better model for Calgary, might be the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, which has a board of Director’s appointed by Council, but that includes no bureaucrats, and the Mayor is the only elected official, all of the members are citizens-at-large chosen because they have the experience and knowledge needed to manage the projects.  Similarly ENMAX, which is owned by the City of Calgary, has a Board of Directors, with just two Councillors and no bureaucrats.

Crowchild Trail expansion concept for 16th Ave NW and Crowchild Trail, part of a mega makeover from 24th St. NW to 17th Ave SW. One of the concepts is for a tunnel for part of the Crowchild Trail. Crowchild Trail is a key corridor as it links two universities, three hospitals and three new urban villages. Currently this project is not funded. (City of Calgary Crowhchild Trail Expansion link)

Opponents Say….

Some economists and public officials oppose sales taxes because they are considered regressive. That means they tend to have a disproportionately large impact on the poor, who spend a bigger portion of their income at the grocery store and retail establishments.  In response to this criticism, it is possible that the tax is not applied to groceries, low-end children’s clothing and certain other items.

Others will say, “I don’t favour anything that gives the city another revenue stream that is under their control, as they have proven to me they are incapable of managing taxpayers resources. The City has a long history of exceeding budgets on capital projects, likely more so than we will ever know.”

As one senior private sector accountant said,  “The present property tax system is broken, with substantial funding each year into reserves rather than actual expenditures, which can then be disbursed at a future date so they look like heroes. If you want an exercise in frustration, look at the cities financials and see the reserves that are sitting on the books.  Some may consider it prudence, but in reality it is over-taxation and manipulation.  A corporation would never be able to get away with it.”

“I would have a hard time with a project like the Green Line being on the list of Penny Tax problems.  We are about to see a massive tax implemented in Alberta that is supposed to be in part directed at public transportation. We should be holding the government's feet to the fire to ensure that it is spent in that fashion, and not just another tax for general revenues and pet political projects,” says a long time Calgary business owner.

“Each project should be voted on separately so if project was turned down on the plebiscite, it should also some weight on the city's future decision to proceed on their own. For example, if a new arena were voted down, it should be a dead issue.  The city would not turn around and fund it after the public has spoken,” says a Calgary cultural champion.

Editor's Note: After posting this blog, BL wrote: 
Your article begins with the assumption that Calgary has a revenue problem. Perhaps that assumption should be studied more thoroughly. In fact, Calgary's revenues and spending have been growing faster than the average cost of living for a number of years. The City of Calgary does not have a revenue problem. They have a spending problem.
They do not need new sources of revenue for, in fact, there is only one source: the taxpayer. They need to spend more wisely.
There was an interesting article in the Herald this week about a "pilot project" in which the Fire department used SUV's equipped with minor medical equipment, instead of fire engines, to attend to medical emergencies. Guess what? They saved money. Wasn't that a pretty obvious, perhaps a foregone, conclusion.
The city abounds with examples like this in almost every department. Just see what happens when someone proposes that private sector contractors be hired on a competitive basis to clean bus shelters instead of unionized transit workers. All hell breaks loose at City Hall!
Let's not look for more avenues to use to fleece the taxpayer. Let's look for more effective use of the funds already at hand.

A Penny Tax could be applied to help convert Calgary's old science centre into a civic art gallery. 

Champions say…

There are lots of people who believe that there should be no taxes at all and often the wealthier they are, the more they resent paying taxes.  In my own mind, one of the reasons that we are in the pickle that we find ourselves in today is the fact that for too many years, the Conservatives drew on the Heritage Trust Fund instead of raising the tax base. 

Brookman thinks, “The strength of ‘The Penny Tax’ is that projects are selected by public plebiscite and the revenues are administered outside of the normal bureaucracy/political world.‎    For me, there has to be a combination of three projects with broad appeal. Arts and culture: Sports and transportation.

A Penny Tax in Calgary would collect about $300 million per annum. Thus a fixed term of five years would generate $1.5 billion.”

What would $1.5 billion buy Calgarians over the next five years!

A Penny Tax could help fund the development of a new fieldhouse and upgrade to existing McMahon Stadium which are both currently not funded. 

The City of Calgary’s contribution to:

  • $250M Green Line Tunnel downtown
  • $250M McMahon Stadium/Fieldhouse development 
  • $250M Stampede Expansion (Trade Show/Convention Centre Facility)   
  • $500M Crowchild Trail Expansion 
  • $250M Upgrade existing recreational, public spaces across the city 

One suggestion was the Penny Tax not fund the entire projects but be seed money for projects.  Other funding should come from existing tax revenue (municipal, provincial and federal), fundraising by user groups and naming sponsorships. Everybody should have skin in the game. However, with this structure the Penny Tax Board would not be in control of the project, which is one of the key selling features of the tax.

In the future, a Penny Tax could be applied to build new recreation centres like Rocky Ridge Recreation Centre or to upgrade and expand existing recreation centres.  

Last Word

“It may be worth considering, but only if managed by a project committee that is totally outside of city control and outside of their power to decide on the membership. It would also have to be outside their project management and procurement – in other words totally separated from their bureaucracy. And that will never happen,” shared one Everyday Tourist blog external reviewer.

Personally I am all for experimenting with new ideas for city building.  Calgary was the first city in Canada to use the American TIF (tax increment financing) program to kick-start the development of East Village.  With a civic election in 2017, perhaps it is time to ask the taxpayers what they want to do.

Is it time for the city to again experiment a with new tax ideas as our gravy boat has sailed? 

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Calgary / Edmonton: Let's Plan Together

With the release of the City’s review of the real costs of CalgaryNext proposal for a new arena, stadium and fieldhouse in West Village, the plot thickens on how Calgary’s professional sports facilities will evolve over the next decade.

Is it just me or has anyone else wondered why Calgary, Edmonton and the Province aren’t working together to develop a master plan for the provinces major sporting facilities in both cities and look for synergies.

In February 2016, Edmonton completed a study to look at the future uses of Rexall Place on their exhibition grounds, while Calgary has just put out a Request For Proposals to look at future uses of the Saddledome, also located on our exhibition grounds.  While there are differences between the two buildings, sites and markets, there much overlap. 

The same could be said for Alberta’s two football stadiums, which are both past their best before date and in need of a mega makeovers - Commonwealth Stadium opened in 1978 and McMahon Stadium in 1960.

Edmonton's Rogers Place is nearing completion, along with numerous other buildings including the Stantec office tower which will be 69 floors including mechanical making it Canada's second tallest office tower.  The streets around Rogers Place are being branded as the Ice district. 

CalgaryNext is a proposed arena, stadium and fieldhouse at the western edge of Calgary's downtown. 

Arena: Demolish vs. Repurpose  

In the case of the two arenas, Edmonton has already built its new arena and completed a 244-page report on the potential repurposing of Rexall Place.  Rather than spend $8.3 million to demolish the arena, Northlands has floated a plan to spend $85 million to convert it into multi-plex with six or seven ice surfaces on two levels with seating for 3,000 spectators, that would be used for various hockey, curling, lacrosse, ringette and other tournaments, as well as potential replacing some of the city’s aging community arenas for recreational activities.

The plan is linked to a $160 million makeover of Northlands that includes closing the racetrack and converting it into an “urban festival site” for audiences between 30,000 and 140,000 people.  Plans also call for converting the Expo Centre’s current Hall D into a 5,000-seat space for smaller concerts and sporting events.

Rendering of the proposed redevelopment of Northlands Park in Edmonton. The Rexall arena is the circle building at the bottom, the old race track is the new "urban festival site" at the top of the image. 

The Edmonton report researched 17 other North American NHL cities that have introduced new arenas since 1994, and found that 11 of the replaced venues were ultimately demolished.  Maple Leaf Gardens is now a Loblaws grocery store, Joe Fresh boutique and a LCBO liquor store as well as the Ryerson University athletic facility, which includes an ice rink on the third floor, which is used by university teams, as well as for other activities by outside users.  The Montreal Forum, is now a mixed-use building that includes a Cineplex Theatre complex, a bowling alley, sports bar, Tim Hortons and Montreal Canadian’s gift shop.

The Montreal Forum today.

Calgary’s situation is very different as there are no firm plans for a new arena, however, The City of Calgary and The Saddledome are in the process of engaging consultant to look at future uses of the Saddledome and the economic feasibility and community benefits of each option.

Ironically, this comes at the same time as the Calgary Stampede has announce it wants to expand the BMO Centre to create a major convention and tradeshow centre, by tearing down the Corral a 6,475 arena built in 1950 that is across the street from the Saddledome and attached to the current BMO Centre.  It has been postulated by some that perhaps the Saddledome could be reconfigured into a convention centre/trade show facility. 

It will be very interesting to see what ideas the consultants generate for the Saddledome and how that links with the Stampede’s master plan.

The Saddledome is one of Calgary's few iconic buildings.  It provides a postcard view of the City's stunning skyline.  

Football Stadium

In the case of the two football stadiums, Edmonton is again ahead of the game having just appointed MTa: Urban Design/Architecture (offices in Calgary and Edmonton) to review the future of Commonwealth Stadium. Given it looks more and more, like Calgary’s City Council is favouring renovating McMahon stadium, doesn’t it make sense to engage MTa to review both stadiums and their sites to determine how best to invest the taxpayers dollars. 

It is hard to justify a new stadium 30,000+ seat stadium that gets filled for 8 home games, perhaps a playoff game and a Grey Cup every 10 years.  Ideally the new stadium if designed with noise reduction acoustics could also be major concert venue in the summer.

If it is determined a new stadium makes the most sense, one possibility in Calgary would be to build a new stadium north of the existing one, perhaps in a way that could include a baseball stadium and fieldhouse to maximize its use.

The current site of McMahon Stadium includes an outdated baseball park, as well as running track and other playing fields.  Could this site be redeveloped into a multi-sport complex that would serve professional sports (football, soccer, baseball), university athletics and recreational teams city-wide. 

An interesting twist would be to plan any renovations so that one is completed before the other e.g. while Calgary’s McMahon Stadium is being redeveloped the Stampeders could play in Edmonton and then Calgary could return the favour when Commonwealth Stadium is being renovated. 

There would be some cost saving to doing the two renovations in tandum and creating two similar stadiums, just like the Jubilee Theatres.  

Last Word

It will be very interesting to see how these urban renewal sagas play out over the next few years.  What lessons Calgary might learn from Edmonton, who have already built a new arena with a very controversial funding structure that was debated for many years.

In Calgary the debate is only getting started.  

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Calgary: Planners and Politicians are too downtown and ego centric!

Everyday Tourist Note: We love getting comments and insights from readers. This week, we received a very thoughtful email about Calgary's urban/suburban divide that warranted a guest blog. 

I keep reading about the urban/suburban divide, the evils of sprawl, and the mismanagement of development. At the same time, I read of the declining importance of downtown, with the majority of employment growth occurring in the outside areas – the industrial parks, the distribution centers, universities and hospital campuses, the airport – and on.

Downtown is an island of high-rises that has less and less relevance to the majority of Calgarians. (photo credit Peak Aerials) 

What is downtown Calgary?

We have dozens of office towers occupied by oil and gas companies, banks, legal firms, investment advisors, and government.  It certainly isn’t representative of the full economy of the city.

And while there is a retail component to downtown, it is certainly not a draw for the majority of people who have much more accessible shopping without any of the hassles and expense of going downtown.

Many of the towers would not exist but for the extravagance of the oil industry in good times, and now that the industry has again fallen on hard times, the downtown is paying a steep price.

Many believe that this is a long term, or even a permanent problem, as the economic structure of that industry has changed.  At the very least, we may again be facing a lost decade, similar to the 1980’s.

Yet employment growth, and economic expansion, continues in Calgary, as does population growth. But despite the fact that the large employment centers outside the downtown are out-performing the downtown, the city remains disproportionately focused on downtown.

We continue with our hub and spoke approach to public transit, our tunnel vision on all things downtown, be it bike lanes, parks redevelopment, pedestrian bridges, and on. And all we hear about are the evils of sprawl.

 

This City of Calgary Land Use Typology map illustrates how Calgary NE and SE have be designed as major industrial employment centres (purple). However, these areas are serviced mostly by road rather than transit.  It also illustrates how most of the residential zoning is on the west side of the city with employment on the east, yet most transit routes are oriented north and south. The City is responsible for the disconnect in Calgary's land uses, not developers. 

Calgary's current and planned LRT routes are all downtown centric. 

Change focus

Where is the focus on the access needs of the industrial parks, the distribution centers and other outlying employment centers?

Who is championing public transit that will service these areas without the inevitable connection to the C Train or routing through downtown. 

Where is the encouragement to better link these employment centers to surrounding residential with the same access that we fund in the core?

Is there any less need for funding of pedestrian access and bike routes in the suburbs, or to these employment centers?  Some would argue the need for bike routes is even greater, given the city’s long standing approach to development, where suburbs are essentially individually walled off communities, and the routes in an out are mid to high speed roadways with no pedestrian or bike access.

SE Inland Port anchors a major employment centre in Calgary with minimal transit service. 

Quarry Park is a major employment centre in Calgary's SE quadrant but has poor transit service as a result of all transit in SE focused on existing South LRT leg service to downtown.

Southeast is booming

Over the past few years, two major employment centers have developed in the Southeast – Quarry Park and Seton (the South Hospital Campus).  These are not centers that were being redeveloped and face the limitations of decisions and designs of decades past. 

They were clean sheets of paper, and could be designed and built to fulfill all of the pet initiatives being touted by council, city planners, and the various special interest groups that arise every time changes are planned in communities.  

But neither development can be viewed as overly pedestrian or bike friendly, transit oriented, or even planned to encourage living in nearby suburbs.

Somehow we have developed this skewed vision of a world-class city, with a downtown full of architecturally significant towers and condos, with these great public areas, art work, parks, etc.  Unfortunately, that is not where the majority of the population is, wants to be, or can afford to live. Nor is it where the majority work.

South Health Campus will anchor a new Healthcare focused city at the southern edge of the city. (photo credit Peak Aerials) 

Urban Sprawl City's fault

Calgary is where it is today because of our city administration and planners.  They annex the land.  

They layout and approve the subdivisions, shopping centers, employment centers, industrial areas, and transportation routes.

They layout the rules for all the development that happens in new communities.

Yet it is the developers who seem to be at fault for the sprawl, the transportation issues, the lack of density, the dependence on cars, and on and on.

Something is amiss.  

Map of Calgary's vision for Rapid Transit routes is still downtown centric, but there are more east west routes.

Out of whack? 

I think the City’s basic priorities are out of whack. The future of Calgary is not in the downtown, nor in the million dollar infills or luxury condos. 

Calgary is a city of young, growing families, most with jobs outside of the downtown, with a focus on raising families with ready access to parks, recreation facilities, neighbourhood schools and shopping.

While the designer bridges and public artworks look great on postcards, they have little impact on the majority of Calgary’ citizens.

Gerry Geoffrey is a retired CFO of a major Western Canadian corporation and a resident of Calgary since the mid 80’s. His sentiments are similar to the feedback received from many Everyday Tourist readers.

Finally, the SE quadrant will be getting not one but two new recreation centres - SETON and Quarry Park.  (photo credit, SETON Recreation Centre, City of Calgary website).

Downtown urban design makes for dramatic postcards, but don't serve the needs of the majority of Calgarians.