CALGARY, ALTA. – The City of Calgary is investing $350,000 in the University of Calgary’s (U of C) Civic Commons Catalyst program to support downtown revitalization research and initiatives.
The investment will support Civic Commons Catalyst researchers as they focus on innovative solutions for economic recovery, downtown reinvention and impactful investment to transform both underutilized public and private space in Calgary’s downtown, a city release stated.
“The transformation of downtown Calgary will yield benefits citywide for generations to come. We’re making an investment in the Civic Commons Catalyst because the University of Calgary brings both local and global expertise, along with a focus on innovation and the use of data and research to help address urgent issues Calgarians face daily. It is my hope that through holistic design-forward thinking and a greater focus on partnerships at the beginning of the process our downtown’s future can be even brighter, more inclusive of all Calgarian needs, and help make centre city the sustainable business core it has the potential to be,” Calgary Ward 7 city councillor Terry Wong said in the release.
The City of Calgary is focusing on transforming underutilized public and private space and has placed a priority on that area through an office to residential program exploring how public space is utilized on Stephen Ave. and 9 Street S.W.
“This research partnership exemplifies the University of Calgary’s commitment to our community and the critical importance that design-based research plays in the shaping of great cities and societies. Downtown Calgary is facing unprecedented challenges from high vacancy rates and social vulnerability that is affecting the quality of life in our city. The Civic Commons Catalyst reframes these problems to show how underutilized spatial assets can become opportunities for social, economic, and environmental innovation. It is an important example of how great universities and great cities can work together,” U of C president and vice-chancellor Ed McCauley said.
The partnership between the City, SAPL, the Canadian Urban Institute and REEF is the first collaborative example to get kick-started through the Civic Commons Catalyst. REEF is the largest operator of parking real estate in North America.
A six-month pilot project will gather input from downtown business owners, the real estate sector, academics and other local partners on priorities for downtown Calgary, with findings culminating in recommendations to transform locations within REEF’s real estate network to “meet pressing community needs,” the release stated.