Calgary unveils latest plans for Stephen Avenue redesign, seeks feedback

The final round of public engagement for Calgary’s Main Street redesign is now open.

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The city is soliciting citizen input on its latest Stephen Avenue design plans. Citizens can give their feedback online and at a virtual open house on February 15.

Last June, the city commissioned Ghel Studio with Stantec Calgary to redesign the main downtown pedestrian mall. Six streetscape options have now been narrowed down to three designs posted online on Monday. These three layouts will be used along various portions of the 1.3-mile (2.1 km) section of Stephen Avenue that is being upgraded.

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Jenna Matthews, the project manager for the Future of Stephen Avenue project, said the project could be divided into two main zones. The west side, everything between 11 Street SW and 4 Street SE, will be multimodal, meaning there will be space for both pedestrians and cars.

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“The west end of Stephen Avenue is planned to be a neighborhood-scale street,” she said. “We know there will be a lot of changes in this space as the office-to-apartment conversion projects take place.”

A historic plaque on the Doll Building is seen along Stephen Avenue Mall in downtown Calgary on Thursday, February 9, 2023. The City of Calgary is reviewing new design proposals for the mall. The historic photo of the avenue dates from around 1907-1908. Gavin Young/Post Media

These seven blocks will have lanes for cars and bikes in the middle of the street. Pedestrian zones are separated from car and bicycle traffic by street furniture.

Matthews said the Urban Research Planning Office wants to include dual vehicular traffic for residents living in the area.

The other six blocks, from 4 Street SE to Macleod Trail, will be pedestrian-only. The streets will be divided into program zones, furniture areas and a transit zone for pedestrians and cyclists. There are two similar but slightly different floorplans for the pedestrian zone.

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While this area would not allow private vehicles, it will allow space for emergency vehicles.

“Decades” since Stephen Avenue has seen changes

Matthews said the east end of Stephen Avenue is a key downtown destination for people to congregate and socialize.

“It’s been decades since the avenue has changed, so with our project we really want to renew this space and ensure its success in the future,” Matthews said.

This round of engagement is looking for entries on design elements such as lighting, paving and treetops.

Matthews said the current trees are not being planted in a way that will allow for extensive growth. While the project team is still working to see if this is even possible given the utilities, they hope to create a large pagan canopy along parts of the road.

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The consultation also wants information on the types of seating, amenities, and activities residents would like to see, such as: B. Food trucks, pop-up markets or outdoor performances.

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The city is still deciding how to allocate funds for the Stephen Avenue redevelopment

The exact budget for the Stephen Avenue redevelopment has not yet been determined, but the city has allocated $108 million for downtown modernization in its most recent budget cycle, and a portion of that will go toward this project.

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“The city is yet to determine how much of this funding will be allocated to Stephen Avenue,” Matthews said. “Once we know how much will be allocated to Stephen Avenue, that will help determine when the project will be phased in for construction.”

The Stephen Avenue modernization is just part of the city’s broader downtown revitalization plan, which also includes the modernization of Olympic Plaza and the downtown office-to-residential conversion program. On Tuesday, the Calgary Chamber released a report calling on the province to increase the city’s $108 million for revitalization.

The final streetscape for Stephen Avenue is expected to be completed by fall, and construction is slated to begin sometime in the next two years.


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