Home Month and Year May 2024 Infrastructure and the Beauty Stuff

Infrastructure and the Beauty Stuff

Good for people and good for business

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OLYMPIC PLAZA TRANSFORMATION. PHOTO SOURCE: CMLC

Whether it is the cranes, the stretches of hoarding along the sidewalk, the barricaded and hasty truck exits and entrances in the downtown area, or the haphazard maze of orange road cones and pylons, noisy big machines, detour and slow signs and the bustle of day-glow vested workers on area roadways, this is crazy season for Calgary construction commotion.  

Big and small paving projects, overpasses, CTrain stations and off-and on-ramps. And downtown megaprojects, like the impressive BMO Centre expansion, the dazzling Arts Commons and Olympic Plaza transformation, the excitement of the growing East Village and more.  

It’s all part of the construction dynamics that is Calgary. Good for Calgary growth, Calgary business but, inescapably, a frustrating nuisance detour maneuvering for people. 

According to Josh Hesslein, spokesperson for the City’s Infrastructure Services, “Our projects span every quadrant of the city and include new infrastructure and extensions, road widenings, interchanges and bridges. Rehabilitation of current infrastructure projects are also part of the construction season with refreshed paving and concrete to keep them safe.” 

He explains that Calgary is investing in transportation infrastructure to extend its lifespan, improve safety and service, and connect Calgarians in new ways. A few highlights for the 2024 construction season include: 

  • 14 Street SW reconstruction. “Because 14 Street SW is a popular, high-use corridor which extends from north to south Calgary, connecting to important routes and destinations throughout the city, we are spending $9 million on pavement reconstruction and realignment of the existing traffic lanes from Anderson Road to Canyon Meadows Drive.”  

The project includes installing a new stormwater system and adding a new walking and wheeling connection along the east side of 14 Street SW from Canyon Meadows Drive to Anderson Road, with an extension to the east to an existing pedestrian overpass.  

Additionally, $1.5 million is being spent on resurfacing the eastbound lanes of Canyon Meadows Drive and a short section of the westbound lanes from 14 Street to Macleod Trail. 

  • 4 Avenue Flyover rehabilitation. Originally built in 1982, recent inspections of Calgary’s longest bridge showed that the 42-year-old structure needs rehabilitation. The City is investing $12.5 million to repairs and improvements that will extend the service life of the bridge to help ensure that it continues to be functional, reliable and in good condition for commuter use for years to come. Construction began in early April and scheduled to be complete by late fall 2025. 
  • Hesslein also notes significant 144 Avenue NW improvements. “Construction is continuing on a 1.2kilometre extension of 144 Avenue from 24 Street NW (Panorama Road) through Symons Valley Road to Sage Hill Drive NW The project includes a bridge crossing over West Nose Creek, and an expansion of the multi-use pathway system linking to other walking and wheeling paths should be completed this fall.”  

While infrastructure projects like paving, overpasses and lane realignments and others are routine and often taken for granted construction work and commotion, the “beauty spots” on the transformational Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) schedule are much higher profile, noticeable and impressive. 

The CMLC was created by the City in 2007 to support Calgary’s objectives for urban densification and community renewal, infrastructure investment and placemaking in the Rivers District, which includes East Village, The Culture + Entertainment District and the east end of downtown. 

This year, whether it’s the fabulous $500million BMO Centre expansion, Arts Commons and Olympic Plaza transformation, the Victoria Park/Stampede LRT station rebuild or the flurry of activity with the development of several mixed-use residential projects and more in East Village, CMLC’s impact on the look and feel of the downtown area is spectacular. 

“No doubt about it, the summer of ’24 will be exciting in Calgary!” says the upbeat and enthusiastic Kate Thompson, CMLC’s president and CEO. “More than $1B in major city-building projects are happening this year, including some significant project completions and initiations.  

“Next month, we and our partners at the Calgary Stampede will celebrate the grand opening of the BMO Centre expansion, making Calgary home to Western Canada’s largest convention centre, with more than one million square feet of hosting space.” 

Calgary business, Calgariansand Stampede visitorswill be dazzled with the summer opening of the new BMO Centre. It is 565,000 square feet, doubling the facility’s rentable area to a total of more than 1 million square feet with a combined occupancy of 33,000, making it the largest convention centre in Western Canada and a Tier 1 convention destination. The BMO Centre expansion includes more than 100,000 square feet of new exhibition space, 38 new meeting rooms, two new ballrooms totalling 70,000 square feet and a dramatic central gathering space called the Exchange. 

She explains that it was designed with gathering in mind. “A space for conference attendees and convention-goers, but also a space for Calgarians. One of the unique aspects of the BMO Centre expansion’s new design is a large outdoor plaza that was very intentionally added into the design to allow for the type of community gatherings that are so much a part of the Calgary Stampede’s culture. The space will be programmed for community events, booked as an extension to hosting spaces at the expanded BMO Centre, and used as a gathering space year-round.” 

Thompson adds that CMLC is also completing the 17 Avenue SE Extension and Victoria Park/Stampede Station Rebuild projects, opening a new gateway to The Culture and Entertainment District with a rebuilt LRT station and a new multi-modal connection across Macleod Trail. 

She is gung-ho about the CMLC working with Arts Commons and the City to begin construction on the Arts Commons Transformation expansion, a new three-storey, 162,000square-feet. building with a 1,000-seat theatre and 200-seat studio theatre. “It is the largest cultural infrastructure project currently underway in Canada, and we plan to break ground in late 2024.” 

She also adds that the East Village will continue to build on its exciting reputation for being a unique Calgary live-and-enjoy place. “Construction is underway on the new permanent East Village public washrooms, which comprise a universal washroom facility and pickleball court, and our development partners at Alston Properties will advance construction on their 44-unit mixed use residential property, while 338 new condo units at BOSA Development’s Arris Residences will welcome new residents to the neighbourhood.” 

Urban planners emphasize the priority and focus for especially established and iconic major cities like Calgary to update their vision, update the business and qualityoflife of the downtown area and constantly look forward. It is unofficially the mandate and the mission of Calgary’s CMLC. “We’ve seen how a dedicated effort to revitalize an area can create a vibrant, walkable, liveable destination to live, work and play.”  

The stats show that it is also very good for Calgary business. As example, the $400M East Village infrastructure investment has attracted more than $3B in private investment, and the neighbourhood is now home to more than 4,000 residents, dozens of restaurants and retailers, and new park spaces and pathways.  

“Together with the City’s Downtown Strategy, the officetoresidential conversion projects and the other infrastructure investments underway in the core, the projects will create an enhanced, more vibrant, more innovative and more dynamic downtown experience for all,” Kate Thompson says with enthusiasm.  

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