CMLC Kick-Starts Creation of a Master Plan Vision for Victoria Park

    · 7 min read

    Planning gets underway for master-planned district on downtown Calgary’s east end with $150 million commitment to infrastructure investment

    Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) – the organization responsible for bringing Calgary’s East Village back to life in a big, big way announced today the design team responsible for the development of a cohesive, holistic master plan vision for Victoria Park and a cultural and entertainment district in downtown Calgary’s east end.

    “With the new East Village rising rapidly skyward, we’re now turning our attention to the rest of the Rivers District – specifically Victoria Park,” says Michael Brown, CMLC’s president and CEO. “Much like the East Village of 10 years ago, Victoria Park is an inner-city neighbourhood at a turning point in its history. While sporadic development here and there has helped the community to some degree, it’s not enough. To truly transform Victoria Park and steer the Rivers District toward its full potential, bold moves are needed.

    “We see this as a major opportunity for a major vision. And to help realize that vision, we’re committing approximately $150 million into infrastructure and placemaking initiatives.”

    That major vision, says Susan Veres, Senior VP Strategy & Business Development at CMLC, is centred around the idea of a cultural and entertainment district in the east end.

    “It’s an area with entertainment in its DNA,” she says. “It’s been home to The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth for more than a century and Calgary’s beloved Calgary Flames for over 30 years. And it’s surrounded by powerful players in arts, culture and entertainment: Glenbow Museum, Arts Commons, Studio Bell, New Central Library, TELUS Spark, Calgary Zoo, Fort Calgary and more.

    “The stage is set for Calgary’s first master-planned downtown district!”

    “Calgarians have always had a connection to Victoria Park over the history of our city”, said Ward 8 Councillor, Evan Woolley. ”Whether living in a Victorian House or working in Calgary’s warehouse district in the early 1900’s, going to your first Calgary Stampede, or seeing your favourite musician in concert, Victoria Park has been the home to them all. With thousands of people moving into the neighbourhood over the last ten years, I have been excited to see this neighbourhood start to revitalize. Now, I am even more excited to see it re-imagined in a way that fosters arts, culture and entertainment, and see it become the most dynamic urban environment in the city.”

    The idea to create an art and culture district unlike any other, dovetails perfectly with the City of Calgary’s vision and objectives. The City of Calgary currently has a $3 billion capital plan underway and during recent budget adjustments, resolved to focus its infrastructure investments on three areas: an Inland Port and Logistics District; an Innovation, Education and Wellness District; and a Culture and Entertainment District, capable of hosting high-profile events, attracting tourism and business while supporting employment and retail in the downtown area.

    Encompassing East Village, the Stampede grounds and much of Victoria Park, the Rivers District is a tax jurisdiction established 10 years ago to implement the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) – a funding system created to ensure CMLC could fulfil its mandate to revitalize East Village and its neighbouring areas. As land values rise along with new condo towers, retail venues and office space, tax revenues attributable to the redevelopment efforts flow into a fund for ongoing infrastructure improvements.

    “We’re now halfway through the legislated 20-year timeframe for the Rivers District CRL. And our analyses indicate that if we realize the remaining development potential in the Rivers District, we’ll generate another $150 million in CRL revenues,” says Brown. “The CRL pays for new infrastructure and in 2027 when the CRL ends, the city will realize approximately $50 Million every year thereafter in property taxes.”

    To help the east-end district realize its full potential – and to support and enable the ideas and visions of our neighbours and stakeholders…Calgary Stampede, the City of Calgary, and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation among them – CMLC is committing infrastructure improvements and placemaking initiatives in the Victoria Park community.

    Among other things, CMLC will:

    • Extend 17th Avenue SE into/through Stampede Park, providing a new pedestrian and vehicular link to increase connectivity and create an attractive right of way for new retail and commercial development
    • Complete another stage of RiverWalk – Calgary’s much-celebrated riverside promenade
    • Extend the city’s popular Cycle Tracks program
    • Develop streetscapes and development opportunity around the new Green Line LRT line.

    “And to make sure we do it right, we’re going to begin – just as we did for East Village – with an intelligent Master Plan.”

    To assist in delivering the vision for this master-planned district, CMLC issued an RFP in October 2016 to select a Design Collaborative and Master Planning Team. Following a selection process, it selected Mark Johnson of Denver-based Civitas and Stephen Mahler of Calgary’s Gibbs Gage Architects.

    “The Master Plan vision we develop for Victoria Park will honour and integrate previous and future plans and projects, including Calgary Stampede’s envisioned expansion, the City’s quest for a viable site for a new arena facility, the Green Line extension of Calgary’s LRT and, of course, the East Village Master Plan,” says Mark Johnson, President of Civitas – the same firm that helped CMLC reimagine and design St. Patrick’s Island, which reopened to Calgarians in 2015.

    “Ultimately, Victoria Park needs to grow as a vibrant, amenity-rich, mixed-use community 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.”

    The Master Planning Team will get started now, with a view to delivering the Master Plan vision by June 2017.

    “Throughout the process, we’ll place a great deal of importance on input from community stakeholders…including the citizens of Calgary,” says Johnson. “So to kick things off, we’re inviting all Calgarians to share their ideas and their ideals for Victoria Park. We want to know how they imagine enjoying this area…what experiences, new or improved, are possible here…what will help the community flourish and prosper over the decades to come.“

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