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Reimagine Calgary's downtown

Pathways to Potential: 2021 MUNICIPAL ELECTION PLATFORM

Our vision is that the heart of Calgary’s incredible community is a vibrant downtown – a place for all Calgarians to come together, and where we choose to live, work, and play.

Challenge

From the challenge of the pandemic to years of declining energy prices, a struggling economy has led to increased vacancies downtown. This resulted in a disproportionate tax burden for businesses outside the core and has eroded vibrancy, financial sustainability, and the ability to attract and retain investment and talent.

Opportunity

To address downtown vacancy and reimagine a vibrant downtown where all Calgarians connect, we must consider what policies, investments, and decisions are required. We compete on much more than economics. We must ensure Calgary’s downtown is welcoming, safe, and livable in order to foster an inclusive economic recovery for all.

Pathways to Potential

1. Invest in capital and social infrastructure in our downtown.

To make downtown the heart of our city, it must be exciting, welcoming, and a great place to call home.

Support development of high-quality, climate-conscious capital and social infrastructure directly in Calgary’s downtown communities, including child care, recreational facilities, social supports, and residential and mixed-use development.

Advance recommendations of the Greater Downtown Plan, including reimagining our downtown for mixed-use neighbourhoods and transportation, addressing climate change through design and land use, continuing to build a strong and well-developed public transit network and focusing on innovation and regulatory reform.

Incentivize businesses to move downtown through a Downtown Business Grant that can be accessed by small businesses looking to relocate, start or grow in the downtown core.

Invest in safety, including through improved lighting, police presence, and flood mitigation strategy.

Invest in infrastructure including conference centers and large event spaces to attract business travel and support the tourism sector.

2. Attract and retain post-secondaries downtown.

Post-secondary institutions located in urban centers spur economic activity, including through business development, research and innovation, and corporate partnerships. They also contribute to vital infrastructure and bring a dynamic energy to the city.

Work with post-secondary institutions locally and nationally to move, open or expand campuses and residences within the downtown core.

Continue to provide a property tax exemption for post-secondary campuses located downtown.

Convene post-secondary institutions and the real estate sector to develop a strategy for incentivizing students to live downtown.

3. Continue to invest in a well-developed public transit and transportation network that connects downtown with all communities in Calgary.

To bring people, events, and investment downtown, and reduce emissions, the heart of Calgary must be well connected through public transit. Highly skilled and creative professionals choose cities that have liveable and connected communities and are not necessarily car-dependent.

Transit ridership has continually increased since the 1980s, with a considerable increase in the last twenty years.

Support the Green Line through to completion while also upholding accountability to ensure the project is completed on time and budget.

Collaborate with all orders of government to continually invest in and enhance public transit systems.

Maintain the low-income and student transit pass to help all Calgarians be mobile and connected.

Invest in high-speed rail that connects downtown to the Calgary International Airport.

Work with car-sharing companies to return to the City, helping increase connectedness and decrease emissions.

Accelerate support for low emissions public transit vehicles.

Extend the 15-minute complimentary street parking initiative to make it easy for people to visit businesses.

Address parking challenges, including affordability and accessibility, and promote availability of parking options, including public and private. Establish free parking on weekends, starting Friday evenings.

4. Accelerate the conversion of vacant offices to mixed-use space.

The City of Calgary estimates nearly 30 per cent of downtown space is vacant (14 million square feet). Initiatives that support reimagining how we use available space hold the potential to recreate the vibrant downtown needed for at attractive live, work, play equation.

Leverage federal and provincial funding arrangements and investment to advance conversion and repurposing of vacant spaces including housing, flexible work spaces, post-secondary institutions, and public amenities.

Allocate funding to livability including recreation centers, child care, and child-friendly spaces.

Incentivize co-working spaces to support the rise of the gig economy and bring contractors and freelancers downtown.

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Let's build a city that is inclusive, safe, and provides opportunity for everyone.

A recovery for everyone will lay the foundation for a more equitable society, leading to a more stable, expansive, and rapid economic recovery.