Main Streets Program hits milestone
Three of Calgary’s Main Streets are getting major facelifts this summer. After work is completed, the result will be a new foundation and space to attract businesses and development. It’s an investment in the vibrancy and success of our community’s and Calgary’s future.
Calgary’s Main Streets have the bones in place – great public spaces, a mix of retail, commercial, and residential and unique characters – that make up great neighbourhoods, but there is great opportunity to improve these community focal points. It’s an exciting time, now that the Main Street program is gearing up to have shovels in the ground after six years of public engagement, land use planning, technical study and streetscape design. We’re creating resilient, adaptable and vibrant Main Streets around the city.
“Calgary’s Main Streets are places where citizens come together. They allow us to travel less and live more by providing the things we need right in our own communities,” said Joyce Tang, Main Streets program manager. “We’re creating canvases for our Main Streets communities and businesses to bring to life.”
Some of the work being done on these Main Streets project includes widening sidewalks, reducing the distance that people have to cross at intersections, more trees and greenery and providing a safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists.
37 Avenue before and rendering of after Main Streets project.
Two of the Main Streets that are moving into construction are in Councillor Evan Woolley’s Ward 8: 37 Street S.W. (Bow Trail to Richmond Road S.W.), and 17 Avenue S.W. (Crowchild Trail to 37 Street S.W.), along with connections between the Southwest BRT and 33 Avenue S.W. that will lead to future Main Streets project work.
“Our goal for the Main Streets program was to leave a legacy for each community and create public spaces that ensured the future of each Main Street," said Councillor Woolley. “These are not just transportation projects that focus on moving cars from one place to another. We want to build spaces and community connections that support business and create vibrant destinations.”
The third Main Street beginning construction this year is Bowness Road N.W. in Montgomery. These projects are part of The City’s $60 million investment in design and construction of Main Streets around Calgary to make them more economically and socially resilient.
“Our Main Streets are the spines of Calgary’s vibrant, diverse, and economically resilient communities,” said Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell. “City investment in streets, parks, and community spaces through the Main Streets program is critical in supporting these communities as they grow and change. Especially for local businesses, who are working to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, City support in improving our public places will help bring more customers, open up new business opportunities, and help our local economy thrive.”
The transformation of a Main Street happens in stages:
- Strategize –public engagement and market studies to develop a city-wide Main Streets implementation plan (completed between 2014-2016)
- Plan - A plan to bring people and jobs by using land use redesignations
- Design - A plan for placemaking, using a streetscape master plans and design concepts
- Build - Public space transformation, through private and public construction activity
- Live - Community activation and enjoyment through the opportunity of communities and businesses working with The City to pilot innovative programs or street activations
We use four principles to guide each Main Street project through land use redesignations, streetscape design and into construction and beyond. These principles were developed after engaging with citizens and business owners and learning that Calgarians wanted the program to focus on creating vibrant public spaces, supporting a variety of retail and small businesses, creating unique destinations and balancing transportation options.
Our four guiding principles for each Main Street are:
- Focus on a social and healthy environment for users
- Build a framework of mobility and functionality for all modes of users during all seasons
- Community character and identity needs to be embedded in every aspect of the Main Street design and the community ownership and pride is essential
- Main Streets need to promote economic vitality through planning practices, streetscape design and community activation and use.
“Our member businesses are very excited to see long overdue public space upgrades occur in Montgomery,” said Marion Hayes, Executive Director of the Montgomery on the Bow Business Improvement Area. “Our Main Street is the economic and social driver for our community and having a Main Street that focuses on community health and multiple transportation options only benefits our businesses.”
To learn more about the Main Streets program and construction projects, please visit Calgary.ca/MainStreets.