January 13, 2022

Civic Commons Catalyst pilot proposes strategic interventions for downtown Calgary

By the Centre for Civilization

University of Calgary School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

As Calgary moves into phase two, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks will start phase one research.

A hyperloop station, a waste-to-energy facility, a Calgary Airport-Downtown-Banff Rail, crypto-mining farms, hydroponic facilities, an innovation district and an artist/rainbow village. These are just a few of the interventions the Civic Commons Catalyst is proposing to reinvent downtown Calgary’s vacant public spaces and spur economic recovery and investment. The Civic Commons Catalyst is transdisciplinary research partnership under the Center for Civilization between the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL), the School of Public Policy (SPP), Evergreen, the City of Calgary — and funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

Phase one of the Civic Commons Catalyst’s research culminated in a list of 20 recommended strategic interventions for Calgary. The proposals catalyze underutilized spaces across the city into positive assets for the public, allowing communities to pioneer an innovative future backed by data and design-at-scale. Six research areas, including interviews, horizon scanning, public policy, finance innovation, geospatial data and urban design, along with the support of 13 UCalgary graduate students, were used to gather the data and determine the interventions.

While navigating the challenging circumstances presented by the pandemic, de Salvatierra has secured nearly a million dollars in project support from a range of organizations, including a grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. This funding allows the project to move into phase two with an expanded team of 25 researchers and will focus on bringing stakeholders, such as building owners and operators, developers, policy makers, community associations and civic leaders, together to facilitate these 20 recommendations and turn them into reality. Currently, the Civic Commons Catalyst is encouraging interested parties to reach out to collaborate on these interventions.

As Calgary moves into phase two, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks will start phase one research. Currently, select existing phase one work is viewable until December 30 in the Create Space at the Central Library in the interactive exhibition “Comple(x)ity: Data, Discovery and Design.” In 2022, this research on Alberta’s innovative approach to downtown revitalization will be shared in a series of knowledge mobilization activities. The project’s work will also be available to the public through lectures, exhibitions and a regional/national forum hosted by Evergreen.

The project is part of Urban Alliance, a strategic partnership between The City of Calgary and UCalgary to promote the seamless transfer of cutting-edge research for the benefit of all of Calgary’s communities. The initiative is supported by, and leverages, Evergreen and Future Cities Canada’s history of convening networks and incubating social labs and participatory design practices for complex urban issues.

Download “Civic Commons Catalyst 2021: Strategic Interventions” briefing report

First published on the University of Calgary Newsroom

Finding this resource useful?

We’ve got hundreds more toolkits, videos, podcasts and reports available for free. Simply register now and you’ll get full access to our library of world class city building resources.