The Civic Commons Catalyst
Evergreen and the University of Calgary School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) are partnering to support the creation of the Civic Commons Catalyst in Calgary—a creative, shared platform to research, convene and ideate, evaluate, and develop public and private real estate investment opportunities in Alberta’s cities and communities.
The Catalyst is conceived as a solutions lab and project incubator that will launch by addressing three challenges facing the Alberta and Calgary urban development sector:
- The COVID-19 pandemic
- Significant pre-existing vacancy in the downtown core
- The exacerbated downturn in the oil and gas sector
Beginning with a focus on downtown Calgary, the Catalyst is taking underutilized spatial assets city-wide and catalyzing them into positive assets for the community to spark the region’s revitalization.
First year results
In its first year, the Catalyst has developed a comprehensive catalogue of underutilized built and natural assets, undertaken extensive research into policy and finance innovation, and developed a methodology to identify transformative projects in the downtown. To date 20 interventions have been identified for further consideration.
In Phase 2 (July 2021 – June 2022), the Catalyst will mobilize the research produced in the first year in two key ways:
- Develop six in-depth project proposals for revitalization for the City of Calgary, and
- Create catalogues of civic assets for three rural communities in Alberta.
These detailed design proposals are meant as demonstration projects —removing perceived risk, encouraging development, and providing an opportunity to kickstart activity in a strategic way.
The Catalyst has the potential to radically transform the landscape of available strategies to address the 30% vacancy in the downtown core of the City of Calgary and to provide a methodology for other cities to leverage their underutilized civic assets.
The Catalyst is an interdisciplinary research and innovation platform embedded with SAPL’s City Building Design Lab (CBDLab), its partner faculties (School of Public Policy, Haskayne School of Business, etc.) and funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. The initiative is supported by and leverage Future Cities Canada’s historic of convening networks and incubating social labs and participatory design practices for complex urban issues.