As the fourth largest municipality in Canada, Calgary is a city young at heart with a median age of 36.8 years. Since being the first Canadian city to host the Winter Olympics in 1988, it has consistently won praise for its high quality of life based mostly on stability, healthcare and education.
Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, Calgary has a long and close history with the First Nations. The inner city is surrounded by suburban communities that are becoming increasingly densified. There are several planning and rejuvenation initiatives being undertaken to increase livability.
As a major urban center for the province of Alberta, Calgary’s economy is largely driven by the oil and gas industry, as well as financial services, film and television, transportation and logistics, technology, manufacturing, and more. Importantly, it is a vital hub of business, housing a huge number of Canadian corporate head offices.
Calgary focuses on building strong, inclusive and sustainable communities. A key project is the Green Line Light Rail Transit line, an important addition to Calgary’s connectivity and mobility. It will connect to 10 planned transit-oriented development stations and serve more than 27 communities, creating places where people can live affordably with access to amenities, services and sustainable mobility options. Additional funding is being poured into the Bus Rapid Transit project and roads as well as affordable housing, arts and cultural spaces, and flood mitigation strategies.
The city’s vision for the future is to create an environment that is financially sustainable while protecting the natural environment and supporting a prosperous economy. It has identified key plans to respond to the needs and aspirations of its citizens.
Can Calgary continue to be one of the safest, cleanest and economically-stable cities in the world?
As the largest city of Alberta and the third largest city of Canada, the City of Calgary is home to a population of 1.2 million in 2016. It has multiple plans and strategies in place to ensure affordable housing. The City of Calgary’s Action Plan (2015-2018) has identified Strategy P6 to increase affordable and accessible housing options, and the Calgary Municipal Development Plan (2009) has also emphasized the importance of sustainable local communities with a choice of housing forms, tenures and affordability.
The city has developed the Foundation for Home, a corporate affordable housing strategy that identified six objectives and actions from 2016 to 2025. Calgary’s affordable housing plans also support compact development, especially in high density areas. The Capital Budget 2019-2022 Action Plan recommends a variety of built forms such as pocket developments, townhouses and mixed-use buildings.
Currently, only 3.6 per cent of housing in Calgary is non-market housing, well below the national average of 6 per cent in urban centers. The current vision is to bring the amount of non-market housing in Calgary to a minimum of 6 per cent to meet the national average. According to 2016 needs, this would require an additional 15,000 units to be built.
The Calgary Metropolitan Plan has emphasized the importance of ensuring development areas are connected through walkable streets is encouraged on the municipal level, as well as the protection of the riparian waterfront as part of the region’s plan to protect regional infrastructure. Multiple strategies and guidelines were developed to guide streetscape design in future development like the Complete Streets Guide, which details street design elements as well as funding strategies. A section of the Transportation Plan is also dedicated to designing multimodal streets. In addition, the Transit Friendly Design Guide, details design principles for transit-supportive streets. The city also produced Design Guidelines for Subdivision Servicing, Residential Street Design Policy and Street Capacity Guidelines.
The Municipal Development Plan included policies of Public Realm that emphasizes pedestrian-friendly streetscape design and outlines design principles for sustainable streetscapes in the Streetscape Guide. It presented policies that deal with creating connected plazas and squares. The Major Activity Centers section of the plan included policies that deal with the creation of successful public plazas and “key gathering areas”. The Rivers Community District Revitalization Plan is a redevelopment plan that was developed in conjunction with an environmental remediation strategy and a flood protection initiative by the city.
The Calgary Metropolitan Plan was developed to encourage balanced growth that will fulfil the region’s vision and aspirations: healthy environment, prosperous economy, enriched communities, and sustainable infrastructure. It focuses on landscape connectivity and the conservation of the integrity of the ecological system and the creation of a Regional Open Space Strategy. One of its goals is to protect the natural environment and watersheds. It also emphasizes the importance of ecological restoration and the need to sustain ecosystem diversity.
There are numerous plans for ensuring the connectivity and the expansion of green space in Calgary. The city developed the Open Space Plan, Parks Urban Forest Strategic Plan, Urban Parks Master Plan, Centre City Parks: Open Space Management Plan, Imagine Parks and the Natural Area Management Plan. The Streetscape Guide includes details on street integrated stormwater management systems and Pedestrian Zone Design that includes street trees. The Calgary’s 10-year Biodiversity Strategic Plan was also developed to outline a comprehensive approach for conserving the natural environment and fostering biodiversity in green open spaces. The plan aims to create ecological resilience and includes methods to measure success.
Alberta has allocated a substantial amount of the budget, CAD8.4 billion in 2018 to 2019, towards primary and secondary education to fund enrollment growth. An area of focus is the school nutrition programs includes a CAD16 million commitment to give 30,000 students a daily nutritious meal. CAD461 million will fully fund the enrollment of an additional 15,000 students in 2018 to 2019, to help keep up with the forecasted enrollment growth. Overall, CAD6.2 billion is allocated towards public early childhood to Grade 12 instruction.
Tertiary education is another focus of the 2018 Alberta Budget that has allocated CAD6.1 billion towards Advanced Education to provide stable and predictable funding for post-secondary education. A tuition freeze helps maintain accessibility and affordability for students, and investments are being made to increase the number of post-secondary program spaces. For example, CAD6 million has been invested to begin the addition of 3,000 technology related tertiary educations seats and this funding will increase to CAD43 million a year within five years.
With an overall budget of CAD22.1 billion for healthcare in 2018 to 2019, the government has several initiatives to improve access to acute healthcare. Several capital investment projects are planned or ongoing that help meet the growing need for acute care beds, increased hospital capacities, and decreased wait times for surgeries. These projects include:
Initiatives to assist alternate level of care for patients to move from acute care bed to community beds
Construction of the Calgary Cancer Centre to be completed in 2023
CAD17 million investment to complete construction at Foothills Medical Centre to increase surgery capacity and add more intensive care beds
CAD17.6 million investment to complete renovations to the Peter Lougheed Centre’s vascular surgery and women’s health units
Expansion of Alberta Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit.
Alberta has a primary healthcare strategy in place to help improve the province’s healthcare system and increase accessibility for a growing population. The strategy focuses on building up the foundation of Primary Care Networks, Community Health and Mental Health Centers, and Family Care Clinics that offer primary healthcare to residents. In Calgary, a home-based primary care project was developed to support home-care clients and a Telehealth program to make healthcare more accessible to rural communities, increasing access to primary healthcare in the region.
Alberta has budgeted CAD248 million in 2018 to 2019 to support Primary Healthcare in the province. The government is focused on improving community care and home care to help support those who require daily assistance. Emphasis has also been placed on mental health and addiction initiatives with an investment of CAD87 million to support mental healthcare including the opioid response initiative and the implementation of the Valuing Mental Health program.
In the next year Alberta is investing CAD393 million, a CAD22 million increase from the previous year, to help families meet the cost of childcare and early education. Federal and provincial funding has also been allocated to increase the number of Early Leading and Childcare Centers in the province. An investment of CAD46 million for the next three years will provide an additional 4,500 places for childcare at an affordable price of CAD25 per day. While these steps will greatly help increase access to childcare, the cost may still be unaffordable for lower income families.
In Calgary’s disclosed plans for capital investments in tourism, sport and culture, there are very few projects that relate to the expansion or planning for new cultural assets; most of funding goes towards operating costs. The projects that are related to the cultural assets, such as the upgrades to the Jubilee Auditoria, are largely unfunded in this plan. Calgary also has a broad cultural plan in place that involves a cultural resource framework, however this plan does not mention funding and states that operational funding for cultural facilities is below national averages.
Outside of these disclosed plans, there is evidence of some planning and funding, such as building the CAD245 million New Central Library (NCL) that also includes a CAD2 million NCL public art program.
Through Calgary's Climate Program, a specialized team is dedicated to facilitating city, citizen and business actions to reduce human causes of climate change and prepare and adapt to the impacts. The team is developing a Climate Resilience Plan to be presented to council in mid-2018. The Climate Resilience Plan will outline the city’s strategies and actions to improve energy management and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions (mitigation), implement risk management measures in preparation for current and future climate impacts (adaptation), as well as include a Climate Adaptation Plan and a Low Carbon Plan.
The Calgary Climate Change Accord has committed to bold GHG reduction targets for municipal operations and to pursue parallel reduction strategies in surrounding communities, providing recommendations on the municipal and community strategy. The Community Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan has set a GHG emission reduction targets of 20 per cent by 2020; 50 per cent by 2036 and 80 per cent by 2050.
The Expert Management Panel on River Flood Mitigation, organized by the city following the 2013 flood, included several recommendations aimed at understanding flood risk. It is one of the City of Calgary's core strategies for building flood resiliency.
In 2016, Calgary undertook a Flood Mitigation Measures Assessment to develop recommendations regarding the future of its flood mitigation and resiliency. These recommendations were unanimously accepted by city council in April 2017. Flood mitigation and resilience for Calgary have been identified as one of the council’s top priorities.
Calgary has consistently been considered one of the most livable cities in the world. Calgary’s population is expected to continue growing, forcing the city to implement smart city planning such as its combined growth strategy that includes the redevelopment of inner city communities and growth on the city’s outer edges.
The City of Calgary has taken a proactive approach to long-term planning to ensure that it can grow effectively without missing key infrastructure and transportation investments. The two main governing documents, the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP), were developed in conjunction with each other and provide a long-term vision for Calgary. Other policy documentation and strategies have been developed with a shorter timeline in mind to implement the required actions from the MDP and CTP.
Calgary is currently investing in several transport infrastructure projects: opening of three new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes with new station design, dedicated roadway, and TPMs; planning of Green Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) with enabling works construction currently under way; various roadwork improvements aimed at improving walking, cycling, and transit operations in various parts of the city; and construction of the Southwest Ring Road. Larger projects such as the Green Line LRT, BRT, and Southwest Ring Road have also seen some support from provincial and/or federal governments.
There is more transport choice and modal diversity (public transportation, cycling, walking) than in the last decade, and that is continuing to grow in Calgary as governments and industry work towards more awareness/public engagement and added investment. There are limited regional services (to Okotoks privately run, to Airdrie run by Airdrie Transit), but plans and considerations exist for future regional rail development through the former Calgary Regional Partnership, now the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board.
All Calgary public transportation is in one fare zone, and tickets can be purchased in advance, on buses, at LRT stations, or a monthly pass. There have been two unsuccessful attempts at introducing contactless ticketing in Calgary.
Calgary has set corridors for goods movement and is currently constructing road and interchange upgrades for those routes. The Goods Movement Strategy will consider growth of goods movement along major railways, interprovincial and international highways and air cargo into a cohesive strategy outlining policies, future investments and considerations such as emerging technologies and future trends to ensure economic development and quality of life.
No logistics network management through congestion measures are currently implemented — some congestion measures such as time limitations to truck movements and dangerous goods movement are in place — and are most likely to be elaborated on with the creation of the Goods Movement Strategy. About 30 projects targeted for goods movement and traffic growth are set out in the Investing in Mobility Transport Infrastructure Investment Plan.
There are limited examples of multimodal freight hubs. However, they are becoming more popular as shown by the new CN Calgary Logistics Park located off a CN rail line and near important highways and the Calgary International Airport.
The Calgary International Airport (YYC) is a designated National Airports System airport. This means it is under a long-term lease with the federal government and managed by a not-for-profit airport authority, consisting of non-elected representatives nominated by local, provincial and federal governments, and other stakeholders. The airport authority has a long-term Airport Development Projects Plan and a midterm Cargo and Logistics Plan, but these are not publicly available.
YYC has recently undergone construction for a new terminal, runway, and expanding cargo facilities. These improvements allow for increased capacity, attract larger international flights and increase cargo operations. It is one of the fastest growing cargo airports in Canada, receiving 75 per cent of Alberta’s air cargo.
Calgary currently has over 900 kilometers of pathways for pedestrians and cyclists to use, with a policy for major pathway cleaning after snowfall and year-round pathway maintenance.
Calgary’s Pedestrian Strategy was approved by city council in 2016. The council approved 49 of the 50 recommendations. It rejected a lowering of speed limits to 40 km/h or 30 km/h.
Calgary has some policies in place to support increased active transport through bike parking. Although no policy provisions exist, there are recommendations for end-of-trip facilities, which are widely supported by industry and will only continue to become more popular.
The overarching parking policy document, Calgary Parking Policies, includes regional parking policies, car-share policies, and a Downtown Parking Strategy. There is a clear acknowledgement across various planning documents for the need to wisely manage parking across the city; however, lower parking provision approvals are largely approved at a development level. The Downtown Parking Strategy and other supportive planning policies have resulted in the increased use of the municipal transit system, especially in morning and afternoon peaks.
FUTURE MOBILITY: SERVICES
FUTURE MOBILITY: SERVICES
Calgary has been reactive with the introduction of on-demand, ride-share, and car-share services. Regulatory amendments have been made to incorporate these initiatives.
Calgary has been slow with the introduction of future mobility services. The rapid evolving nature of this market risks the improper implementation in the city and adverse effects. A mobility trends review report, the Future of Transportation in Calgary (2017), explored future technologies and services but has not led to planning or policy changes for the identified technologies and services.
Regardless of firm strategies or policies for the implementation of future mobility, the consideration of new technologies can be seen in various studies and pilot projects approved by the city, such as compressed natural gas, electrification and automation of public transport.
Electric vehicle charging infrastructure is mostly owned and installed by private entities. Most are free to use for the public but limited to specific vehicle makes due to differences in charging infrastructure. The city itself does not actively install vehicle charging infrastructure but is currently developing an electric vehicle strategy.
The City of Calgary progressively developed fiber network strategies to ensure essential digital connectivity and improve digital access to the city’s services. Its Digital Strategy was developed to serve as a long-term plan for how it can leverage digital platforms to connect, communicate and engage with each other, with citizens and with other levels of government. A non-profit technology agency, Cybera, has developed a Digital Infrastructure Report for the State of Alberta that provides a detailed review of the province's current network connectivity, data center resources, high-performance and cloud computing resources, cybersecurity awareness and protection measures, data management policies and procedures. The report also outlines an overall review on digital infrastructure in the province.
FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS
FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS
The City of Calgary approved a Fiber Infrastructure Strategy in 2015 with annual updates. It recognizes the importance of digital connectivity and has been increasing its fiber optic footprint, focusing on connecting all city buildings, facilities and assets. The city has also planned for future need by creating excess capacity while deploying the fiber network. These unused fiber optic cable infrastructure is called dark fiber, which can be licensed to organizations to encourage innovation, economic growth and competition. A fiber optic network has also been implemented by the primary providers in the city.
MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT
MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT
The City of Calgary has a public Wi-Fi program that provides service in select city facilities or locations, currently available at all LRT stations and more than 30 sites within the city. The service is available to any member of the public at no charge. Through their participation in the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge, the city has identified 5G technology as the future of cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity. It has the potential to enable and accelerate new innovations such as Industrial Internet of Things, field sensors, autonomous vehicles and connected vehicles, vehicle entertainment systems, and intelligent traffic systems. The initiated Make Way for 5G project includes the design and implementation of a public-private model for 5G enablement.
The City of Calgary has an open data catalog and a data dashboard online (Open Calgary). This platform was created, “To facilitate the sharing of information, spark innovative ideas and foster a sense of collaboration among citizens”. The dashboard allows citizens to monitor the city’s performance and provide continuous feedback on the value of the data and the satisfaction of Open Calgary via an online survey.
As of 14 May 2018, 479 datasets were available for download free of charge and categorized by:
Business and Economic Activity
Health and Safety
Help and Information
News and Events
Recreation and Culture
Services and Amenities
The open data platform is a component of the city’s Transforming Government initiative that prioritizes a culture of constant improvement at the City of Calgary. In addition to this platform, the city also lists resources found elsewhere that are provided by it to further increase data transparency (including maps, statistics, police, etc.). The Government of Alberta also hosts an open dataset catalog with nearly 2,500 datasets openly available.
In 2013, the City of Calgary developed an Information Governance Policy to ensure the city’s information is protected as a corporately-owned asset. An intended outcome of this policy was improved security processes for information assets and information management in alignment with the city’s Information Principles, which includes the mandate that private information is protected according to the law. The City of Calgary also lists five different information management and security policies to outline the processes to protect private and sensitive information, as well as the proper management of information.
The Province of Alberta enacted the Personal Information Protection Act to govern the, “Collection, use and disclosure of personal information by organizations in a manner that recognizes both the right of an individual to have his or her personal information protected and the need of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal information for purposes that are reasonable.”
Canada’s federal government also has enacted the Privacy Act to govern the use of all personal information collected by the federal government and the rights Canadian citizens have to access information that has been collected. Additionally, the federal government has enacted the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act to, “Govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in a manner that recognizes the right of privacy of individuals with respect to their personal information and the need of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.”
The planning and policies for facilitating or commissioning communications infrastructure are regulated on a federal level. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in the public interest across Canada. The CRTC has a Three-Year Plan that outlines the key activities between 2017 to 2020, annual study of telecommunication services in Canada, and Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-496 that applies to country-wide. Due to the exclusive federal jurisdiction in Canada, the City of Calgary has a limited role in influencing planning and policies.
While Calgary does not plan to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy before 2050, there are plans in place to move to 30 per cent renewable energy by 2036. A 100 per cent renewable energy goal is difficult for the Province of Alberta as their largest contributor to the GDP is oil and gas mining. There are no clear plans for the city to transition to smart grid infrastructure and smart metering.
The city and the province have frameworks and funding programs in place to encourage innovation in energy generation and to support emerging energy generating technology. Alberta has an Energy Innovation Fund that is set to invest CAD1.4 billion over seven years for innovation projects in: oil sands, industrial energy efficiency, bioenergy, and green loans (loans for organizations that want to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy).
The province has made investments in infrastructure for alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, and bio energy. It has created the Energy Efficiency Alberta Program to promote the reduction of emissions from residential and commercial properties.
The City of Calgary is developing an Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy to meet the needs of this emerging technology. The EV Strategy is being developed as part of the Climate Program, since it represents one of the greatest opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. They too have invested in infrastructure for solar, wind, and bio energy.
For the long-term, Calgary has a policy on regional water, wastewater, and stormwater servicing that provides a framework to ensure fiscal responsibility, balance economic and social development, and maintain a sustainable water supply for the region.
While a Stormwater and Rainwater Reuse Policy exists, it is still in draft form. As a result, resilience features for water systems are not yet in place. Industry experts and the city are working together to address stormwater and rainwater reuse. In the Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, the City of Calgary built a CAD38.6 million project, funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Alberta Government. It is a joint venture between the University of Calgary and the City of Calgary but will be put to use by research partners from Dalhousie University in Halifax, the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, and the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The work will help in the development of alternative wastewater treatment systems that municipalities can use to remove potentially harmful contaminants from effluent to make drinking water safer and protect the ecology of water bodies.
Also in place is the Water Efficiency Plan 30-in-30, which aims to reduce the number of liters per capita by 2033. This will reduce the amount of resources pulled from the river basins as well as the resources needed to clean the water.
A 626.7 kW addition to the City’s solar PV project inventory was completed at the Bearspaw Water Treatment Plant. The project saw the installation of 1,740 LG solar panels rated at 360 W. That’s enough electricity to power over 100 average Calgary homes and displace an estimated 500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year (assuming about 1,200 kWh per year of production per installed kW). The project is anticipated to achieve a payback within 10 years by helping avoid an average of CAD90,000 / year in electricity costs for the water treatment plant.
The city does have a plan to retrofit existing wetlands, stormwater management facilities and follows a Low Impact Development Framework and Stormwater Management Guidelines. However, funding for new stormwater infrastructure is limited and restricted to private developers.
The city describes a vision to lead the community towards zero waste through innovative recycling, composting and diversion programs. Its first target is 70 per cent waste diversion by 2025, an average across single and multifamily residences, businesses and organizations, and construction and demolition. The city has waste separation and recycling infrastructure and bylaws are in place requiring multifamily residences and businesses and organization to recycle. The strategy for managing construction and demolition waste is being revisited to reduce waste from this industry.
Other than these targets and regulations, the city has very few provisions in place concerning land-use plans for landfill remediation, controlling the generation of waste through initiatives such as single use plastics bans, or waste reuse frameworks.