2020 State of Downtown Calgary Report launched

Calgary’s Downtown took many steps this past year along the road to reinvention, despite the challenges of 2020. The transformation of beloved public spaces in Eau Claire, Chinatown and the East Village, along with the continued growth of Calgary’s tech sector, are just the start of the transformation

The State of the Downtown Calgary Report - the annual evaluation of Calgary’s downtown - highlights the successes and challenges of the past year, the impacts of COVID-19, and exciting developments downtown from The City of Calgary and our partners. It also looks ahead at the roadmap for reinvention for the next decade of downtown Calgary’s future.

“The report highlights the unprecedented level of collaboration between downtown Calgary’s partners, as we tackled a challenging year for our city, our citizens, and our downtown,” said Thom Mahler, Downtown Strategy program lead for The City of Calgary. “Even with these challenges and the limitations the COVID-19 pandemic placed on our downtown, a lot of exciting things happened in 2020 and we’ve begun to build a foundation for an exciting future.”

Key takeaways from the State of Downtown Calgary Report:

  • The transformation of key public spaces has started: in Eau Claire, Chinatown, and the East Village. The City is investing $59.1 million in flood protection, public space, and walking and wheeling connectivity projects between 2020 and 2023.
  • Downtown office vacancy continues to be a challenge, sitting at 29.36 per cent at the end of 2020. This highlights the need for public and private partnership to tackle one of downtown’s greatest challenges.
  • Downtown Calgary’s tech sector continues to grow with ESQ Business Services, Symend, Lodgelink Inc., and Harvest Builders, among others establishing greater presences downtown. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) launched its Digital Transformation (DX) Hub to focus on training Calgarians for the digital economy.
  • Transformation of the East Village and the east end of Victoria Park is happening. The BMO Centre Expansion, the Platform Innovation Centre, Arts Commons Transformation, and the 17 Avenue S.E. Extension are all being led by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC).
  • Downtown safety remains a priority, with the launch of the Downtown Ambassador program. Teams of ambassadors hit the streets, thanks to a partnership between the City of Calgary and the Calgary Downtown Association, focusing on connecting Calgarians and visitors with information and resources, including helping downtown’s vulnerable population connect with social services.
  • The downtown business community was strengthened during a tough year through the support of Downtown’s business improvement areas (BIAs). Despite pandemic restrictions innovative programs were launched including the Taste of 17th, #wethefourth, Beltline Balcony Bash, and Chinatown Ice Sculpture Showcase.

We look forward to continuing to strengthen and invest in our city’s downtown. In April 2021, Calgary City Council approved Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan and an investment of $200 million earmarked for actions that will address office vacancy, improve downtown vibrancy, and support the development of thriving neighbourhoods.

To read the full report, please visit

Calgary’s Downtown Strategy Leadership team is comprised of The City of Calgary, Calgary Economic Development, The University of Calgary, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, Arts Commons, Calgary Downtown Association, and the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area (representing all downtown business improvement areas). The team is focused on leveraging the collective efforts of its public and private partners to respond to downtown’s economic challenges, and capitalize on opportunities that will create jobs, drive economic recovery, and revitalize and transform Calgary’s downtown.