CMLC announces master plan for Victoria Park in downtown Calgary’s east end

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) has announced that planning is underway for the development of 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. To help realize this 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 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.

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.

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