Personality to spare

Calgary’s ‘vibrant’ inner-city a popular attraction for many

They say it’s a place you can go when life is getting you down. A place that has movie shows and little spots to go. In the words of songstress Petula Clark, downtown is where you forget all your cares.

While Clark may not have been referring to the city we call home, the growing popularity of Calgary’s inner-city communities stand as proof she was on to something.

“Living outside the core has a lot of benefits: there’s more space, it’s quieter … But living in the core, in my opinion, is just easier,” said Katelynn Turner, who recently moved back to the inner-city with her boyfriend, James, after living outside the core for several months. The couple had been eager to return to the area after travelling abroad, having previously lived in Mission.

The allure of downtown living comes not only from the convenience of having a host of amenities a short walk away, but also from the charm of the area, added Turner. “You’re centralized, so getting anywhere in the city is generally pretty quick. You can walk or bike to get most places, and there’s so much to do,” she said. “I feel like the inner-city has a lot more personality as well and several homegrown businesses that I like to support rather than just shopping at chain stores.”

A recent survey by the City shows Turner is not alone. Centre City Perception Survey, released in May, showed Calgarians increasingly visit the area to shop (39 per cent), eat lunch (47 per cent) or eat dinner (47 per cent) – an almost 10 per cent increase since 2011.

A majority of Calgarians also continued to express positive views about safety in the area; 90 per cent of respondents stated safety stayed the same or improved over the last 12 months.

Centre City encompasses downtown, East Village, Stampede Park, East Victoria Crossing, Victoria Crossing Centre, Connaught Centre, West Connaught, West End, Eau Claire and Chinatown. It is currently home to 35,000 Calgarians, 6,000 business, more than 25 public parks and serves as a workplace for 159,000 Calgarians.

“These results demonstrate that the City of Calgary’s investment in the Centre City is paying off,” said Dawn Thome, project manager for Centre West Local Area Planning & Implementation.

“Centre City residents continue to tell us that they enjoy living in their community. Even those who do not live in Centre City are spending more time taking part in activities and contributing to a vibrant core.”

Over the next 30 years, the City expects the area to grow even further, adding up to 40,000 new residents and more than 60,000 new employees by 2035. Single-family and condominium sales in the area are also up.

In July, the inner-city community of Connaught saw 39 condos change hands, outpacing McKenzie Town’s 32 sales to claim top spot in the city. Also seeing a high number of sales were the communities of Victoria Park (24) and Lower Mount Royal (19).

Inner-city single-family starts, meanwhile, have increased by 35 per cent through the first half of 2014, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

“We have seen an increase in single- detached starts in the inner-city,” said CMHC senior market analyst Richard Cho.

“The inner-city’s proximity to downtown and various amenities appeals to a number of prospective buyers. Low mortgage rates, rising incomes and higher equity gains have helped support demand for homes in the inner-city which tend to have higher prices.”

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