I am posting this, because a lot of questions have come to my office regarding the Rivers District, in context of the new event centre. It is the master plan for the area, and with the event centre coming it will be the catalyst to the entire area being developed from parking lots to high rise towers. The future Green Line will also be a part of it. This is an exciting next step in Calgary’s future.
The Rivers location
The east end of downtown Calgary was once a vibrant residential, cultural and commercial neighbourhood. The land where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet was where Calgary first established itself as a community. Today, The Rivers District includes some of Calgary’s most popular attractions: the Calgary Zoo, Fort Calgary and Stampede Park. Refer to Map: The Rivers District revitalization area.
A part of the Rivers District is included in the Rivers Community Revitalization Levy initiative, a new financing mechanism. See Map: The Rivers (Community Revitalization Levy).
Unfortunately, much of the area is undesirable for developers because of environmental concerns from past industrial and rail uses, and the need for extensive infrastructure upgrades raising roads and sites above the flood plain, upgrading and relocating utilities. Attempts to revitalize this area over the past 30 years have met with failure. For details, read The Challenge.
The vision for a revitalized Rivers district includes a lively mix of residences, shops and restaurants that draws people from all over the city. A series of waterfront parks and river walk systems could become one of Calgary’s primary tourist attractions. To learn more, read The Vision.
Success with urban renewal
Other municipalities have successfully reclaimed similar waterfront areas. Winnipeg created The Forks an area with 3.5 million visitors annually – from old railway stalls. Portland’s River District development projects have created a thriving residential community out of former industrial lands and rail years. To learn more, read Success Stories: Urban Renewal.
The financing strategy for The Rivers is a combination of a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL), development fees and the strategic use of City-owned land. Existing taxes are not affected. A developed community adds tax revenue to the City, while an undeveloped area supplies little returns. To learn more, read Financing Strategy and The Rivers District Community Revitalization Plan.
For more information
Read the booklet The Revitalization of the Rivers District in Calgary.