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Article on Calgary


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Having travelled to all major Canadian cities and stayed in many for extended periods, I would easily choose Calgary as the last place in Canada I would want to live.

As the article mentions, the city has experienced rapid growth. How that growth was handled, however, is where the probelm lies.

Topographically, the city has nothing but room to grow, or rather, to sprawl.

An extremely affluent city, the mentality is faster, bigger, and more of it.

This applies to the urban design as well. Here, the suburbs and the SUV's rule.

Though huge amounts of money have been invested into public transit (bus and light rail), the urban design counteracts any pedestrian attempts. Transit is extremely inconvenient and time-consuming due to the extreme lack of density.

The downtown lacks any semblance of nightlife. The city has an utter disregard for history. Tear it down and build a new one.

With the exception of 17 ave., there is nowhere that the pedestrian can exist safely and enjoyably. Sidewalks and streetlife are foreign to Calgary development.

In stark contrast, I flew into the city of Halifax, NS last weekend. Nothing could be further from the Calgary model. The coastal city is full of streetlife, history, and culture, and nightlife. It has a very European character, with brick paved streets, rooftop cafes, and public gardens. Transit is accessible and efficient. The quality of urban space makes the city a delight to explore on foot. While the city is economically much poorer than western cities, it achieves a quality of life found only in downtowns of much larger Canadian centres such as Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. (There may just be the possibily of an inverse relationship of economic success and quality of urban design. hmmm...) Though the population and growth rate are far below the boom-town of Calgary, Albertans could learn from their eastern Canadians.

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