Prominently featuring the iconic Palliser Hotel and the Calgary Tower that for decades defined the downtown skyline, 9th Avenue is cemented in the city’s history as a primary east-west thoroughfare. Once home to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) train station, 9th Avenue has undergone transitions over the years from bustling commercial district during the heyday of rail travel to abandoned gravel beds during the city’s recurring boom and bust cycles. Falling in the shadows of the municipal building’s soaring glass façade, 9th Avenue east of Centre Street has endured many incarnations but this historied expanse of asphalt’s long-standing identity crisis is now receiving some much-welcomed therapy.
The East Village Development Plan is breathing new life into the forgotten outfield of the bustling downtown core. Outlined in 2017, the Plan’s vision is to develop a vibrant, human-scaled and sustainable high-density downtown neighbourhood that respects and enhances its historical, physical and social context and reinforces a high quality of life for its diverse residents. Recognizing the need to support the local business services and amenities that have in turn driven increased traffic to the revitalized area, the plan’s focus on mobility includes significant allowance for parking.
More than just another parking lot, the 9th Avenue Parkade is a forward-thinking structure that not only addresses the immediate need for temporary vehicle storage but also looks ahead to a time when modern society’s love affair with automobiles declines. The 510-stall structure’s design allows for full conversion to commercial and residential facilities in the future. A central part of the revitalization plan’s focus is on building community, so in alignment, the site also includes plenty of bike parking, and an outdoor sport court at ground level to engage citizens end encourage gatherings in the multi-purpose facility.
As a three-way collaboration between the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), Platform Calgary and the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA), the building will not only redefine the downtown’s south east skyline and welcome those entering the East Village via 9th Avenue, but 9AP, as it has become affectionately known, will also house the Platform Innovation Centre. Located in what is touted to be the City’s latest innovation corridor, the Centre will play host to startups and entrepreneurs by providing a hub for creativity and promoting a safe space for sharing original ideas and innovative solutions.
The Innovation Centre will play an important role in encouraging economic diversification from our historic dependence on the energy sector, through engaging entrepreneurs and attracting technology expertise to the city. Christina Stevens, Project Lead with Platform Calgary shares the Centre’s ambitious goal “We see 9AP playing a role in helping to place Calgary on the global stage as a Top 50 City for startups. Platform Calgary has the opportunity to create a city-wide culture of innovation – it’s exciting.”
With the celebratory “shovel in hand” groundbreaking ceremony on the books for over a year, the project team has watched the construction progress with anticipation and is looking forward to the 2021 grand opening. Vivin Thomas, Capital Projects Engineer with the CPA captures that excitement in listing 9AP’s most inspiring aspects: “Innovation in the design, ensuring relevance for future generations, and the adaptability for alternative uses as mobility needs change in years to come”.
The CPA’s involvement in the 9AP build aligns perfectly with its strategic priorities of planning for the future, innovating to improve and meeting the parking needs in the communities we serve. For his part, Vivin describes his role as “Ensuring the infrastructure provides value and a positive impact to the City of Calgary, the community, and its citizens.” In essence, Calgary Parking Authority is on the frontlines of Building a Better Calgary.
When the CPA decided to move toward a more customer focused approach and changed the name of its enforcement department to Parking Safety and Compliance (PSC), the team had no idea that its mandate would include not only parking safety and education but also lessons in local culture.
Since its inception in 1968, the Calgary Parking Authority has had an important mandate to serve our community in the best way we can.
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