ADVOCATING FOR THE GROWTH OF THE MAIN STREETS
An alliance of various groups and organizations has been formed in Calgary to fight against the threat of any financial cuts to the city’s Main Streets initiative, which aims at upgrading and improving key roadways in many established neighbourhoods.
Advocates into Main Streets (AIMS) includes community associations, business improvement areas, active established area developers, and planning and design professionals.
In a letter in early November to Calgary’s city council, AIMS wrote that the group shares “a unified voice with the expressed priority of advocating for Main Streets funding and support.”
Ali McMillan, planning director for the BridgelandRiverside Community Association, says the Main Streets initiative is absolutely critical for communities.
“Established communities are changing and we’re asking residents to change in terms of adding density to their community and we really need to show the benefits. Density without amenities is a totally different conversation. A bunch of us in established communities have wooden power poles on our main streets or gravel alleyways. These are older communities . . . and if we’re not going to see some investment to improve the place where the neighbourhood lives and breathes on our main streets it’s kind of hard to ask people for this kind of change,” she says.
“We really see the opportunity where we can have that conversation about how it makes so much sense to add density where there already is people and things going on and these main streets. But we need to show people there’s a big upside to this.”
Bob van Wegen, executive director of the Marda Loop Business Improvement Area, calls the alliance a grassroots collection of stakeholders.
“Up in our area just for an example we’ve had huge development and change in Marda Loop. Just in the last three years we’ve had seven large multi-storey residential, commercial, mixed-use buildings either completed or under construction and we’ve had virtually no investment in the public realm in our area and no plan in the public realm,” says van Wegen.
“Our public realm is incredibly beat up. In some places it’s even unsafe for like pedestrian crossings.”
He says many communities, like Marda Loop, have gone through extensive planning to deal with future improvements with the expectation that there would be investment and some implementation coming.
Alkarim Devani, president and co-founder of RNDSQR, a Calgary developer and homebuilder, says from a community building standpoint it’s exciting to be on the same side as community associations, business improvement areas and other stakeholders.
“We all realize how critical and important this funding is to these main streets. We’ve identified them as really parts and almost like the hearts of many of these communities,” says Devani.
David White, co-owner and principle of CivicWorks, a consulting firm that offers planning and design support to developers and builders, says the approach of the alliance is to put pressure on city council to indicate that this is a priority for many Calgarians.
Density without amenities is a totally different conversation
&I[THFYJX NSYT 2FNS 8YWJJYX èLMY YT RFNSYFNS FSI NRUWT[J YMJ HNY^ÚX WTFI\F^X NS JXYFGQNXMJI SJNLMGTZWMTTIX