Res­i­dents polled

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Con­dos -

I was in­trigued by the re­sults of the Ci­ti­zen Per­cep­tion Sur­vey of the Cen­tre City, which was con­ducted last year by Ip­sos Reid.

To me, the suc­cess of a Cen­tre City is what the cit­i­zens think of it. Such an area is the heart, soul and face of any city — it is crit­i­cal to a city’s iden­tity and civic pride.

Con­se­quently, to me, the im­por­tant find­ing of the sur­vey was that 89 per cent of Cen­tre City res­i­dents like to live there. You can’t get much bet­ter then that.

Eighty-nine per cent agreed that “the Cen­tre City is a de­sir­able place for me to live.”

This dif­fers from Cal­gary as a whole, where the per­cent­age was 43 per cent city­wide.

A lit­tle dig­ging and you find that 10 per cent of Cal­gar­i­ans are very or some­what likely to re­lo­cate to the City Cen­tre in the next three years.

This is a num­ber I have been quot­ing for years as the mar­ket for ur­ban liv­ing in Cal­gary — nice to see it ver­i­fied.

You also find 80 per cent of those al­ready liv­ing in City Cen­tre are go­ing to stay, with 20 per cent likely to move out.

Those mov­ing out, I ex­pect, are the “yup­pies with pup­pies” who now want to have chil­dren (45 per cent of the peo­ple liv­ing down­town are be­tween ages 20 to 39.)

All and all, the sur­vey paints a very pos­i­tive pic­ture for our Cen­tre City, which in turn is pos­i­tive for all of Cal­gary.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant re­sult of the sur­vey was that the Cen­tre City’s parks, path­ways and side­walks were all given a sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing above 85 per cent.

Hav­ing clean, safe and at­trac­tive pub­lic places are crit­i­cal to ful­fill­ing the Cen­tre City vi­sion.

Where the city fell down was in sat­is­fac­tion with the area’s LRT sta­tions and bus stops — 63 and 58 per cent, re­spec­tively.

The re­cently com­pleted up­grades to the 7th Av­enue LRT cor­ri­dor will hope­fully in­crease pub­lic sat­is­fac­tion when cit­i­zens are next sur­veyed.

In chat­ting with Bar­ring­ton and his team, it would seem the big­gest strug­gle they are cur­rently hav­ing is try­ing to iden­tify the “big idea” for Cen­tre City that will take it to the next level by 2035.

The area cur­rently lacks that “must see, must do” at­trac­tion, ar­chi­tec­ture or ac­tiv­ity that great city cen­tres have.

Think of Times Square, Cen­tral Park or the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art in New York, Mil­len­nium Park in Chicago, St. Cather­ine’s Street in Mon­treal — or Ea­ton Cen­tre, the Art Gallery of On­tario and the Royal On­tario Mu­seum in Toronto.

A big idea for our Cen­tre City has eluded Cal­gary for many years and it is a role that can­not be filled by just an­other big of­fice tower, ho­tel, condo or shop­ping com­plex.

Could it be the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of East Vil­lage, or the trans­for­ma­tion of Stam­pede Park into a year-round en­ter­tain­ment district?

Bar­ring­ton is only three months into his po­si­tion, but I am con­fi­dent he is the kind of big thinker who might just be able to bring the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors to­gether to cre­ate some­thing spe­cial for our Cen­tre City that will shout: “This is Cal­gary!”

If you have any ideas, e-mail them to me and I will pass them on.

Cen­tre City lacks an iconic area like that of Times Square in New York.

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