Inner-city escapes

Parks are especially important in densely developed downtown

“Quality, not quantity” is how City of Calgary parks manager Keath Parker characterizes green spaces in Calgary’s downtown core, an area that’s not only home to tall office towers, but residential neighbourhoods as well, including the Beltline (Connaught and Victoria Park), East Village and Eau Claire.

Parker explains it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that the province’s Municipal Government Act (MGA) gave municipalities the authority to take up to 10 per cent of a development for open public space. Residential neighbourhoods developed prior to that tend not to have as much green space as those created after the MGA.

However, Calgary’s downtown is still far from a cold, concrete jungle. In fact, there are 24 parks in the downtown area covering roughly 65 hectares of open green space, according to the City.

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Community rebirth

Revitalized East Village is becoming “the place to be” in downtown Calgary

The summer sun rises eagerly in the early morning sky, casting a glittering cascade of twinkling light on the surface of the Bow River. Joggers and dog walkers scoot along the river pathway, enjoying the public art and the perfection of nature against the city’s skyline. The smell of freshly roasted coffee and savoury bready morsels wafts from the Simmon’s Building, its glass-sheathed doors flung open in anticipation of the day. Just steps away, store owners set out their wares in the newly launched pop-up retail park, as brightly coloured shipping containers frame the backdrop and the East Village hums to life.

“The East Village is all about connecting people and the new pop-up retail park – East Village Junction – is one of the major place-making initiatives happening this summer,” said Jessa Morrison, senior manager of marketing and communications for Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, the developer behind the East Village, a 49-acre revitalization project on the east side of Calgary’s downtown.

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Blank canvas

Developers creating public art ‘for the people that belongs to the people’

It’s Sunday morning and soft skiffs of white snow blanket the still green grass, while golden and red leaves cling tightly to drooping branches laden with the heaviness of an early fall storm.

As the sun streams through a parting overcast sky, melting the show of winter that has arrived all too soon, the landscape becomes an artistic vista – one of twinkling light and impressionistic colour as St. Patrick’s Island awakens to the day.

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Work of art

City’s evolving arts scene a good news story for real estate

Recent high-profile additions to Calgary’s cultural scene stand to benefit the city’s real estate market in a big way, say experts.

New facilities such as Studio Bell’s National Music Centre and the Calgary Film Centre will go a long way toward helping the city shake off its stodgy Cowtown image, said Tom Keenan, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design.

“Interesting people, things to do, cultural amenities like the opera – these all play a role in making a city appealing to live in,” he said.

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CMLC relocates into renovated St. Louis Hotel

Facade to respect original design

Trading one of Calgary’s historic landmarks for another, Calgary Municipal Land Corp. (CMLC) – the organization responsible for transforming East Village into one one of the city’s most sought-after neighbourhoods – has relocated its offices from the Hillier Building at 429 Eighth Avenue S.E. to the historic St. Louis Hotel right across the street.

In anticipation of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway’s arrival at Fort Calgary, Colonel James Walker developed the St. Louis Hotel in 1914. It underwent a major renovation in 1959, and in 2008 the City of Calgary designated the building as a Municipal Historic Resource.

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