Bill Macfarlane – CTV News Calgary – Nov. 6, 2023
Plans to redesign Calgary’s Downtown West were made public Monday, as part of an effort to create a stronger and more active city core.
The 78-page report lays out plans for the future of the area around the former Greyhound bus terminal, GSL/Wolfe car dealership and stretching just past the Pumphouse Theatre to Crowchild Trail.
“I think we have a really great opportunity, and a limited opportunity if you will, to do the development of this area justice,” Sarah Itani, with developer Cidex Group, said.
“It’s not something that the development industry can do on its own, it’s not something that the city can do by itself, we really need true, true collaboration.”
The report was prepared on behalf of the Calgary Downtown Association, Stantec’s Urban Places and the Kensington Business Improvement Association.
The report makes no mention of the future of land known to have considerable creosote contamination(opens in a new tab) stemming from a plant that operated on the site for four decades.
The prohibitive cost of remediation was a significant factor in ruling out a proposal to make Downtown West the site of a new arena for the Calgary Flames, along with other amenities including a field house for the city.
Intermittent monitoring by the province has found no significant threat to human health as long as the area remains undisturbed.
The report recommends three phases of work with the aim of establishing a strong sense of community and connection to the Bow River; public space destinations connected to trail and travel systems; link public spaces and close gap areas that have no clear use.
“The opportunity that Calgary has in the west end is significant and can be a monumental investment and re-intensification of the economics for downtown,” Mark Garner with the Calgary Downtown Association said.
Garner says the city needs to do more to guide developers through the approval process and to speed up the time it takes to get shovels in the ground.
“There needs to be somebody that moves these projects through the city much faster,” he said.
Delays in building mean added costs for builders, especially with interest rates rising. Those additional costs are eventually passed on to buyers and tenants.
“You’re going to have to pay a higher rate for your condominium, or your rental fees on your unit,” Garner said.
The report recommends several major projects, along with what it calls “quick wins” such as temporary dog parks or other public spaces.
Lastly, it recommends a series of other improvements, such as lighting and path connections.