Council approves investment required to address Calgary downtown vibrancy

The City of Calgary is taking action to make Calgary’s downtown even more vibrant. Today, City Council approved Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan and an initial investment of $200 million to support the actions outlined in the plan. 

“We need to create an even-more thriving downtown community that moves beyond the traditional office-based downtown central business district and instead is a dynamic, vibrant 24/7 centre of our city,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “This means taking bold action and making intentional investments in public spaces, supporting vibrant neighbourhoods, and ensuring we continue to create a downtown that people want to live and work in.”

Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan, developed through extensive engagement with citizens, the downtown business community, and community associations, is the vision, roadmap and commitment to build a more thriving, future-focused downtown. The initial investment of $200 million is earmarked for actions that will address office vacancy, improve downtown vibrancy, and support the development of thriving neighbourhoods.

  • $45 million in financial incentives for office conversion, office replacement and new residential development
  • $5 million in financial incentives to offset +15 Fund contributions for residential development
  • $55 million for impactful capital projects to improve public spaces, improve vibrancy and support complete neighbourhoods
  • $5 million to activate downtown public spaces with festivals, events and community spaces to build vibrancy
  • $80 million for Arts Commons Transformation Phase 1
  • $10 million over four years for a dedicated City of Calgary Downtown team

The 10-year implementation of Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan will require a collaborative approach to enhance Calgary’s downtown. The City has been working with its Downtown Strategy partners – Calgary Economic Development, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, the University of Calgary, and the downtown business improvement areas – along with members of the real estate and business community to create an investment package that will have an impact on downtown’s greatest concerns.

“A vibrant downtown is essential for attracting and retaining talent and our City’s long term success,” said Trent Edwards, President, Canada Land & Housing, Brookfield Properties Development and Co-Chair of Calgary Economic Development’s Real Estate Sector Advisory Committee. “Harnessing the full potential of our city is dependent on creating a significantly improved tax base downtown which will help reduce the tax burden, where it has recently shifted outside the core, and help us to be more competitive throughout the city. These financial investments are part of a necessary take-action approach to attract people who want to spend time living, working and playing in our downtown, providing long term benefit to all Calgarians. We simply can’t afford not to do this.”

The investment in Calgary’s downtown required from 2021 to 2031 is estimated at $1 billion. This includes $450 million to $500 million to address office vacancy and $500 million for downtown vibrancy infrastructure and amenities. The initial investment package represents only 20 per cent of the overall need over the next decade. The City will require support from all levels of government to help address this 80 per cent funding gap. City Council has directed the Mayor and City Administration to initiate a formal request to the federal and provincial governments.

“A thriving downtown where people want to live and be, and where businesses want to set down roots, means a thriving Calgary,” said Thom Mahler, program lead for The City’s Downtown Strategy. ”We have been working extensively over the past several years with our civic partners, Calgary’s real estate industry, post-secondary institutions, and the downtown business community. We’re doing what we can with what we have, but there is a definite need for broader commitments and funding to make this a reality. “

Learn more about Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan and downtown investment package at