Calgary Herald

It's time for Calgary to take back our story


Stories help us understand the world and our place in it. It's time to tell Calgary's story — one that better reflects who we are and who we want to be.

For too long, we've let others tell a one-dimensiona­l story about our city. This was recently confirmed by Calgary Economic Developmen­t's annual perception­s survey that saw positive perception­s of Calgary take a bit of a hit last year. It found that 82 per cent of business leaders held a favourable view of Calgary in 2023 and 59 per cent of those surveyed believe Calgary has a diverse economy — an eight per cent and 18 per cent decrease from the previous year, respective­ly. It also found that people outside our city continue to associate Calgary with a cold climate that lacks diversity in our people, culture and economy.

Through research and engagement, it was also discovered that Calgary is a place where people didn't see themselves in the existing brand. So, Calgary Economic Developmen­t and Tourism Calgary, in partnershi­p with the City of Calgary, embarked on evolving Calgary's brand to ensure the city's narrative is authentic, aspiration­al and reflective of all Calgarians.

What was uncovered has been collected from a vast array of Calgarians who shared their ideas, experience­s and truths with us. Business and community leaders, government, and the voices less often heard — equity-deserving communitie­s, Indigenous individual­s and groups, youth groups, not-for-profits, community associatio­ns and arts groups — were engaged. In total, 129 organizati­ons across 26 sectors provided input through interviews, workshops, cross-country focus groups and surveys.

We heard that Calgary is an incredible place to call home. We are consistent­ly given top marks for livability, affordabil­ity and quality of life. And we are a place where people are filled with hope and the can-do spirit to match.

We heard that we are a city of unexpected possibilit­ies where our imaginatio­ns and dreams are as big as the blue sky above us. There is a deep love for this city, a love that gathers people to volunteer and to visit our amazing home. It also inspires people to start and grow businesses, to build a world-renowned library and music centre, to reimagine spaces for the arts and culture, and to host The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

We heard that we all live under the same blue sky, without differenti­ation between ethnicity, gender or sexual orientatio­n. And while we understand that some people do not feel included, the sky can remind us that we all belong.

Finally, we heard that you can't think about Calgary without envisionin­g its big blue skies — 333 days a year of sunshine to be precise. This sets us apart from other cities in Canada, and while we can have snowstorms in April, we always return to the proverbial and literal blue skies.

Calgary's story is a place of confluence — where rivers, ideas, peoples and cultures converge. It's about opportunit­y and unexpected possibilit­ies that can be distilled into one simple message: Blue Sky City.

The hope is that by distilling who we are, Calgary can align around a shared vision of a future where every citizen sees themselves.

Calgary's story doesn't belong to any one group; it belongs to those who were born here, grew up here or chose to build a life here. It belongs to Calgarians across diverse background­s, all strata of society and all walks of life. And it's a story about our collective voices that come together to tell a larger story about who we are as a city.

By doing so, we can create a brand that resonates, inspires and draws people to Calgary to keep building on this story and discover what's possible in the Blue Sky City. Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary; Brad Parry, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Developmen­t and CEO of Opportunit­y Calgary Investment Fund; Joel Cowley, CEO of the Calgary Stampede; Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce; Alex Sarian, president and CEO of Arts Commons; Crystal Blain, founder of Ask Auntie Consulting; Anila Umar, president and CEO of the Centre for Newcomers Calgary; Sol Zia, executive director of the Calgary Hotel Associatio­n; Terry Rock, president and CEO of Platform Calgary; Patti Pon, president and CEO of Calgary Arts Developmen­t; Paula Calderon, CEO of the Calgary Immigrant Women's Associatio­n; Lindsay Peace, executive director of Skipping Stone; Roderick Tate, president and CEO of TELUS Spark Science Centre; Kate Thompson, president and CEO of the Calgary Municipal Land Corp.; Jennifer Thompson, president of Fort Calgary.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada