CMLC Moves Forward on Major Redevelopment Initiative in East Victoria Park
With master plan and funding mechanism in place, CMLC gets to work—in a really big way!—on Calgary’s emerging Cultural & Entertainment District
Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)—the organization leading the effort to transform downtown Calgary’s east end into one of the city’s most exciting and inviting destinations—is ready to move full steam ahead on its plans to bring the same energy, appeal and (of course) investment to east Victoria Park that its redevelopment and placemaking strategies over the past 12 years have injected into East Village.
“Since 2007, when we embraced the challenge to redevelop and revitalize the east end of downtown Calgary, CMLC has transformed East Village into a vibrant, liveable neighbourhood by implementing the City of Calgary’s Rivers District Community Revitalization Plan (2007) and the East Village Master Plan we developed in 2009,” says Michael Brown, President & CEO, CMLC.
Beyond making downtown Calgary much more liveable and loveable, CMLC’s work—from completing major infrastructure upgrades to forging relationships with key developer partners to managing the construction of landmark projects like the new Central Library—has significantly elevated property value assessments in the Rivers District.
20-YEAR EXTENSION TO FUNDING MECHANISM OPENS DOOR TO FURTHER REDEVELOPMENT
The Community Revitalization Levy, or CRL, is an innovative mechanism implemented by the City of Calgary and Province of Alberta in 2007 to fund redevelopment on a meaningful scale. By capturing a portion of any property tax revenue increases resulting from investment and redevelopment in the Rivers District, the CRL provides self-sustaining funding for redevelopment without a general tax increase to all citizens of Calgary.
“The CRL bylaw that has funded most of our redevelopment work to date was set to expire in 2027—the end of its 20-year term,” says Brown. “In December 2018, the Province of Alberta approved an amendment to the Municipal Government Act to allow a 20-year extension from 2028 to 2047, and this week City Council approved the bylaw amendment to enable to CRL.
“The CRL extension will allow CMLC to undertake the crucial infrastructure programs pivotal to transforming east Victoria Park into Calgary’s Cultural and Entertainment District, as public infrastructure improvements catalyse private sector investment and development. For proof, just look at East Village!
“We are, of course, duly grateful to the provincial government and to Calgary City Council for supporting our continued city-building efforts and enabling them by doubling the term of this vital funding mechanism.”
Since 2007, residential property assessments in the Rivers District have increased from $328 million to approximately $1.2 billion, while non-residential assessments have gone from $647 million and $1.8 billion.
Over the full term of the Rivers District CRL—newly extended from 20 to 40 years—private development is expected to increase residential assessment value by $5.6–6.6 billion and non-residential by $2.7–4.3 billion. As Rivers District redevelopment proceeds, the progressive increase in property tax revenue in the District will generate sufficient CRL dollars to complete the infrastructure improvements and placemaking initiatives required to complete the transformation and revitalization of east Victoria Park, East Village and the rest of the District.
MASTER PLAN IN HAND, CMLC PLUNGES INTO EAST VICTORIA PARK
Crafted by CMLC in 2017/18 and approved by CMLC’s shareholder in December 2018 as part of the 2019 Business Plan Update, the Rivers District Master Plan articulates a vision and a plan for building on east Victoria Park’s foundation as the city’s Cultural and Entertainment District. Following a rigorous nine-month program of public engagement in 2018, CMLC began planning for major public infrastructure initiatives that will start to take shape in 2019.
The projects the CRL extension enables range from underground utility upgrades, streetscape improvements, and parks and open spaces—all integral to creating a compelling sense of place—as well as larger ‘mega-projects’ like the planned expansion that will effectively double the convention and meeting space of Calgary’s BMO Centre.
The Rivers District Master Plan was mindfully crafted to consider how mega-projects like an expanded BMO Centre and proposed new event centre would integrate into the existing fabric of the community and act as catalyst projects to unlock greater development potential in the area. “With the master plan complete and the CRL extension in place, we are in a great position to advance the vision for east Victoria Park,” adds Brown. “It is a great signal to all Calgarians that the vision for east Victoria Park is progressing…with the right team in place to make it happen!”