A Bold Vision for Calgary's Cultural and Entertainment District

    · 6 min read

    Public engagement process kicks off for Rivers District Master Plan

    Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) – the placemaking and development team that accomplished the seemingly impossible by bringing Calgary’s oldest and most neglected neighbourhood, East Village, dramatically back to life—has spent the past 12 months creating an imaginative, practical, forward-thinking master plan for east Victoria Park: the Rivers District Master Plan.

    Aided by our carefully selected master planning team and supported by stakeholders throughout the broader community, CMLC recently completed an initial draft of the Rivers District Master Plan and is now embarking on a robust public engagement program, in coordination with the City of Calgary, to solicit ideas and feedback from Calgarians on the vision for a 21st century Cultural and Entertainment district in downtown Calgary’s east end.

    “Just as we did for East Village, CMLC is advancing a 20-year redevelopment program for east Victoria Park,” says Susan Veres, senior vice president of strategy & business development. “Rather than reinventing the community as something it simply isn’t, our vision imagines a high-density, mixed-use neighbourhood that draws on the beauty of its natural surroundings, the strength of its cultural heritage and the spirit of entertainment that resides in its DNA. With plans for more than four million square feet of new development, this community will one day be home to some 8,000 residents. CMLC also envisions modernized amenities – event centre/arena facility and expanded convention space – along with new offerings, as key elements in our vision for an east-end Cultural and Entertainment District.”

    Crafted for seamless integration with the existing urban fabric—including several heritage buildings and the Elbow River—and as a compliment to the Stampede Park Concept Plan, the Rivers District Master Plan will help reshape the area as an active, walkable, accessible community with enhanced connections to adjacent neighbourhoods.

    Bound on the north by 9th Avenue SE, the Elbow Rivers to the south and east and 1st Street SE on the west, the Rivers District Master Plan is structured around six character areas that establish a foundation for successful urban redevelopment. Key strategies that form the backbone of the master plan include creating primary connections in and out of the district, improving pedestrian and bike connections, developing open spaces, improving urban form and residential offerings, and creating a district ‘heart’ that becomes the front door to the Cultural and Entertainment district.

    “We designed the master plan vision to be flexible enough to imagine and integrate modernized amenities as well to transform Stampede Trail into a festival street and retail destination,” adds Veres. “As development progresses, the plan and community can accommodate and support a variety of entertainment and cultural amenities.”

    In 2017, CMLC committed $150 million to fund strategic infrastructure improvements in Victoria Park. Just as infrastructure improvements were key to attracting investment and redevelopment in East Village, CMLC’s investment in Victoria Park aims to kick-start urban renewal and community revitalization south of 9th Avenue SE.

    With a draft of the Rivers District Master Plan now complete, CMLC is embarking on a joint public engagement process with the City of Calgary, which is concurrently starting the process to amend the Beltline Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP), originally adopted in 2006 by City Council. The amendments to the ARP will address the issues and concerns outlined by citizens through the public engagement activities and to help support the vision outlined in the Rivers District Master Plan.

    “The City realizes the tremendous development opportunities in east Victoria Park and we’re excited about the opportunity to help support the creation of a livable, vibrant and urban district for all Calgarians to enjoy,” says Ryan Hall, senior planner, The City of Calgary. “Our goal is to listen to the needs of our citizens and translate those into policy that will guide future development in the area.”

    Running from April to July 2018 and spanning nearly every Ward of the city, the joint engagement program will engage Calgarians about how they currently experience east Victoria Park and how they imagine a modernized Cultural and Entertainment district for their city.

    “We’re thrilled to be starting the engagement program and look forward to hearing Calgarians’ bold ideas for east Victoria Park – the city’s Cultural and Entertainment district,” says Clare LePan, director of marketing & communications, CMLC. “Public engagement has been key in shaping the vision for many CMLC-led infrastructure projects—Calgary’s New Central Library, RiverWalk and the revitalized St. Patrick’s Island among them. We’re really interested in hearing what Calgarians have to say about our vision for east Victoria Park.”

    CMLC and the City of Calgary will kick off its public engagement efforts with an Open House in East Village on April 11 and proceed with a series of events at locations across the city.

    Calgarians will also have opportunities to share their ideas and opinions online through a public survey launching April 11, 2018. A complete list of events and activities is available on both the CMLC and City of Calgary websites: www.calgarymlc.ca/riversdistrictmasterplan or www.calgary.ca/beltlinearp

    The findings from the public engagement program will inform the final master plan, currently scheduled for release in December 2018 and the Beltline ARP amendments scheduled for a Public Hearing of Council in early 2019.

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