Build Calgary, strengthen Alberta


YYC Matters highlights priority City projects


With appropriate investments in infrastructure, The City of Calgary can continue to help ease the impact of our challenging economy. The City faces a 10-year infrastructure gap estimated at $5.67 Billion and is looking to the provincial government for additional infrastructure funding for projects such as affordable housing, future phases of the Green Line, Event Centre, a multisport fieldhouse, redevelopment of Arts Commons, and flood mitigation on the Bow and Elbow Rivers.


Arts Commons: where arts, culture and community meet

Arts Commons is one of the busiest facilities in the city with six resident companies, including the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and several theatre companies. Its educational programs make the arts accessible to over 50,000 students annually, along with other vulnerable groups. The work created and performed inside its walls tells the story of our city, our country and, of our common humanity.

Those stories no longer fit within the walls of this space. Since it opened 35 years ago, patronage has doubled over its capacity to 600,000 patrons per year. Arts Commons has a vision for a new building that will revitalize our downtown and create a world-class stage for arts and culture in our city.

“Arts Commons has long been praised as a cultural asset, tourist attraction, provider of educational opportunities and community builder — improving the overall attractiveness of The City of Calgary as a place to visit, live and work,” says Interim Co-CEO & Chief Development Officer, Greg Epton. “The transformation of Arts Commons will make it possible for us to provide Calgarians with artistic and cultural experiences that exceed their expectations.”

Capacity, accessibility, resilience — the Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project will achieve three key objectives. The expansion and rejuvenation will meet the growing demand for performing and public gathering spaces, make the facility more functional and responsive to patron expectations with added access and flexibility, and will responsibly address essential lifecycle replacement and upgrades, including boosting energy efficiency.

The ACT project is as a two-phase plan:

  • Phase One - Arts Commons North: a new 173,000 sq. ft. flexible performance centre providing 1,550 new seats in three theatres in the northwest corner of Olympic Plaza. The City and Arts Commons have invested significant funds in the plan development.
  • Phase Two - Arts Commons South: revitalization of the existing facility requirement lifecycle investment, technological investment for the performing arts, and investment in its connecting infrastructure for increased diversification and public use (Plus 15 and retail spaces).

“Arts Commons believes that arts and culture are essential elements in creating a vibrant, creative and culturally stimulating city and we encourage residents to actively participate in and access the arts,” adds Interim Co-CEO & Chief Financial Officer, Colleen Dickson, “Through ACT we achieve a sustainable future that will ensure we accommodate the diverse needs of a world-class city, and contribute to the social, economic, cultural, and intellectual life and well-being of Calgarians and visitors.”

Arts Commons has submitted a proposal to the Province requesting funding to be included on The Province of Alberta's Capital Priorities List for Phase One – construction of Arts Commons North. The funding strategy also includes receiving funds from the Government of Canada and private sector support.

This project aligns with multiple strategic plans, including the Cultural Plan for the City of Calgary, Transit Oriented Development and Civic District Public Realm Strategies, and recommendations from many partner organizations, including Calgary Arts Development, Calgary Economic Development, and Tourism Calgary.

Fieldhouse long overdue

Calgary may be known as a winter sport city, but facilities for year-round training are sorely lacking. As a result, Calgarians are denied opportunities that are available to their counterparts in Edmonton — where there are three such facilities — opportunities to train, to try new sports, and to host major sporting events.

“Even though the first Fieldhouse plan was announced decades ago, we remain the only major city in Canada without a proper indoor facility for athletics, soccer and other field sports,” says Councillor George Chahal. “It’s time to change that.”

Calgary loses out on millions in revenue dollars from unrealized opportunities to host prestigious sporting events and untapped sports tourism because of our lack of a multisport fieldhouse. World class athletes and local up-and-comers are compelled to move away to train elsewhere due to our lack of facilities.

“The multisport Fieldhouse is critical infrastructure that would not only provide economic and social benefits by attracting large events, professional , varsity and community groups to play, watch and learn about sport and recreation,” said Councillor Chahal. “But also serve a diverse population, from young families to a growing seniors cohort, who need opportunities to stay active and healthy. The fieldhouse will benefit and serve all Calgarians.”

A multisport Fieldhouse has been a top City of Calgary capital priority for several years, but it has been difficult to find the funding to build it. A strong commitment from the Province is key to moving this project forward. This project aligns with multiple strategic plans, including the 10-Year Strategic Plan for Sport Facility Development and Enhancement (2008) and the Culture, Parks and Recreation Infrastructure Investment Plan (CPRIIP 2013-2022).

Present plans for a fieldhouse at Foothills Athletic Park are based on extensive engagement with stakeholders and include a 400-m indoor track (eight lanes with associated throwing/jumping areas) with a FIFA regulation-size infield and associated support/sport spaces. The concepts also include provisions for permanent and temporary seating.

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