City of Calgary director of transportation infrastructure Michael Thompson says several major projects this year will be designed to give Calgarians more mobility choices. Photo by Adrian Shellard/for CREB®Now

Local facelift

Several major projects in Calgary expected to capture headlines in 2016

Calgary is expected to look a lot different by the end of this year thanks to the opening of several highly anticipated developments that promise to reshape the local landscape, say officials.

“It was a good year in 2015, and the projects continue to come in for 2016,” said Kevin Griffiths, director of inspections and permit service at the City of Calgary.

The National Music Centre, a new international terminal at the Calgary International Airport and the new central library are just a handful of the projects that could see their doors open in 2016.

While acknowledging downtown office construction projects have slowed, Griffiths said the pace for other commercial projects have increased. He singled out the Residence Inn by Marriott and SilverBirch Conference Centre, planned for the former site of the Alberta Boot Company on 10th Avenue S.W.

Griffiths also pointed to the multi-family housing sector as an interesting sector to watch in 2016. Construction activity in the sector totaled $2.3 billion (383 permits) in 2015, from $1.96 billion (373) in 2014, according to Griffiths.

Despite high inventory levels in the sector, permits continue to come in. He singled out the West Village Towers project in Eau Claire and N3, the highly anticipated East Village condo project by Knightsbridge Developments that will be the first development of its kind in Calgary to not offer parking.

“It was very strong, and we continue to see applications coming in for that,” Griffiths said of the multi-family sector.

Several transportation projects are also expected to grab headlines this year, including berm construction at the Calgary Zoo, 12th Street S.E. bridge upgrades over Elbow River (including improving walking and cycling connections), ring road connections, construction of a storage and maintenance space for transit’s new fleet of compressed natural gas buses and overhauls to 17th Avenue S.E. and southwest transitways.

“We have a lot of different projects on the go this year. We’re really focusing on trying to provide mobility choices for Calgarians,” said Michael Thompson, director of transportation infrastructure for the City of Calgary.

Planning is also underway for two highly publicized public transit projects – the Green Line LRT and north and south crosstown Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – with construction anticipated to start in the next two years.

“We have more roadwork and interchanges underway than we normally do, and also more transit work than normal,” Thompson said.

“We’re trying to balance all modes of transportation, with a big focus on reducing congestion and providing alternatives for people to use.”

Chamber of Commerce president Adam Legge anticipates several industries in the city will excel in 2016. In addition to transportation and logistics, he pointed to technology, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.

“You’re probably looking at a very positive environment, with the cost of labour and real estate coming down, and a greater availability of people in the market,” said Legge.

“Opportunities can abound for some of those companies.”

He acknowledged, however, that the local economy, in general, will still face a number of challenges so long as the province’s energy sector struggles.

“The challenge we face is that all of that growth combined still won’t fill the economic gap left by the energy sector,” he said.

Calgary Economic Development research manager Susan Thompson believes where one door closes, another opens. She expects growth in green energy technologies, transportation logistics and agribusiness.

Creative industries such as film and television, could also see a boost, aided by the low Canadian dollar, which makes Calgary a more desirable filming location, said Thompson.

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