Good week for Calgary City-building

A couple of interesting events and announcements this week in Cowtown.  First was the opening of the north east leg of the ring road all the way down to 17th Ave SE.  The project was delivered as P3 and one should note that though it was started long after the NW section (delivered under traditional procurement), it was finished to a full freeway standard a full 4 years before the the last traffic signals will be removed on the NW side.  Nonetheless, people don’t really seem to get too excited about these things here, which is probably just as well for my work.  I have yet to drive it but plan to do so on Saturday and am looking forward to it. Roads do not have much sex appeal these days in this carbon sensitive age, but I am of the opinion that they will continue to be a necessity, as even zero emission vehicles, which will someday exist in a mass market form, will need somewhere to drive.  Furthermore, increasingly big city Calgary needs some big city infrastructure, and a decent bypass is part of that equation.

The second piece of good news was the announcement of the West Village project, modelled on the thus far successful East Village revitalization plan.  Originally this was to be part of the City’s 2017 Expo bid, but in deciding not to proceed with that bid, Council did approve a plan to create a new community revitalization level (CRL) for the area west of downtown, along the Bow River, which is also a future transit-oriented development (TOD) zone for high density along the future West LRT that will open in 2012.  Lots of good policy ideas here at work both on the financing and urban intensification side, making me further sanguine about Calgary’s future as an urban city, with a vibrant downtown.  The narrow-minded suburbanites only seemed to have honed onto the fact that the proposal includes another signature foot bridge – sigh… Well I guess they got their ring road so it all balances out!  In the meantime we can take solace that Calgary remains on the forefront of infrastructure finance with now two unique downtown TIF zones that are unique in Canada.



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