CREB®Now sits down with Calgary Transit senior transit planner Asif Kurji
Calgary’s Main Streets project is back in the news, with Calgary Transit recently outlining its involvement in the City-backed initiative.
CREB®Now recently sat down with Calgary Transit senior transit planner Asif Kurji to discuss everything from how upcoming transit projects will factor into Main Streets to why he believes the city doesn’t have any secrets.
CREB®Now: For those who are not familiar with it, what is Main Streets?
Kurji: The Main Streets initiative is a City initiative that is looking at 24 main streets in Calgary. The goal is to learn and understand each street, including their history and character, and then to create a strategy to enable growth along each of the main streets. Main streets provide an opportunity for mixed-use development such as residential, commercial and retail, and make a street great for people to live, work and play. Examples of main streets being look at include Centre Street N., Edmonton Trail N.E., Ninth Avenue S.E. in Inglewood and Kensington Road N.W.
CREB®Now: How is Calgary Transit involved in the project?
Kurji: Calgary Transit is working closely with the Main Streets team to understand transportation and growth needs for each corridor. We are also working on a number of projects that overlap with the Main Streets initiative such as the Green Line, North Crosstown Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), South Crosstown BRT, 17th Avenue S.E. BRT and South West BRT (SWBRT). Not only do these projects enhance the transit service along these corridors, but (they) enhance the sidewalk and public realm and connect people to other major activity centres and main streets.
CREB®Now: Pedestrian safety in the city has come to forefront recently. How is Calgary Transit via the Main Streets initiative addressing these concerns?
Kurji: At the end of the day, everyone is a pedestrian, whether they are walking to their car, bus stop, train or jumping on their bike. In addition to the Main Streets project, we are working with the Pedestrian Strategy team to look at improving the ways pedestrians move around our streets. For us, it’s not just about the transit service. (It) includes all components such as the walkability and the sidewalks, and making an area attractive and comfortable for people to move, work and play.
“At the end of the day, everyone is a pedestrian, whether they are walking to their car, bus stop, train or jumping on their bike.”
CREB®Now: Any discussion with someone at Calgary Transit has to include some update on the LRT expansion. What’s new?
Kurji: It’s a busy and exciting time to be at Calgary Transit. The largest public infrastructure project in Alberta, the Green Line, is moving along. This line includes 40 kilometres of track, and, end to end, will connect North Pointe to downtown to Seton. In the next few years, we’re also planning and implementing new bus rapid transit routes that will enhance the way we travel across the city and along main streets to connect major activity centres without having to go downtown. In the future, we have plans to extend the Blue Line in the northeast four stations north and extend the Red Line in the south two more stations.
CREB®Now: The SWBRT has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons? To be clear, what is the project proposing?
Kurji: What’s getting missed in the conversation right now is that this route is about connecting people and places reliably, and offering a transit choice that hasn’t existed before in the southwest. The route will connect communities in the southwest directly to Glenmore Landing, Heritage Park, Rockyview General Hospital, Mount Royal University, Lincoln Park, Currie Barracks, Marda Loop and downtown. Previously, people would either have to drive or take a lengthy transit trip to connect to these major destinations. The route also includes travelling in bus-only lanes on 14th Street S.W. between Southland Drive and Glenmore Trail, which will allow people and buses to travel more efficiently to their destinations. The project doesn’t change the number of lanes for general traffic on 14th Street S.W. (or anywhere else along the corridor). There is sufficient space for all necessary facilities on City-owned land.
CREB®Now: What is your favourite thing to do in Calgary on a day off?
Kurji: Exploring the main streets and pathways in Calgary is at the top of my list. Calgary’s food and drink scene has been growing for a few years, and I’m always exciting to try something new. I’m a big-city urbanite at heart and love getting lost in the city.