Despite the paused redevelopment of Stephen Avenue due to the Pandemic, the City of Calgary set out to test some of the ideas proposed in the Action Plan. From 2021-2022, the City launched an empty storefront activation initiative, an ambassador program in partnership with the Calgary Downtown Association, and an “Activate + Experiment” program. “Activate + Experiment’ piloted temporary installations featuring experimental furniture, artistic programming, and creative wayfinding aimed at engaging the public in the project process and providing information about the permanent redesign.
In 2023, Gehl, Stantec, and the City of Calgary finalized the Streetscape Master Plan, taking the Action Plan from vision and concept into design. Drawing on engagement outcomes, the Master Plan translates Calgarians’ aspirations for Stephen Avenue into an actionable set of design moves that considers the current and future needs of the area. This functional plan unifies the thirteen blocks of Stephen Avenue with three street typologies. Each typology responds to its specific context, rebalancing modal hierarchies and transforming a multimodal neighborhood into a commercial and cultural hub that prioritizes pedestrians. Dedicated spaces throughout the length of the Avenue set the stage for a wide variety of public and commercial programming, allowing for daily and seasonal variation to extend the use of the Avenue into the evenings and winter months.
The design also accounts for multiple intersecting projects across downtown, knitting together the Greater Downtown Calgary Plan with Stephen Avenue as the primary connector of places and people in the downtown. Gehl and Stantec worked with city staff to create an implementation strategy that outlines a plan for ongoing operation and maintenance, as well as an activation and program plan that will help ensure the Avenue continues to support and drive vibrancy in Downtown Calgary. Underlying these strategies, is a new approach to collaboration across entities and interests, formulating that ‘the Avenue’s Success = Economic Investment + Mobility & Public Space Design + Stewardship, Operations & Maintenance.’
The Master Plan unlocks Stephen Avenue’s potential as a catalyst for change throughout Calgary’s historic urban core, supporting a strengthened downtown neighborhood and providing essential amenities for residents, visitors, and businesses through a first-class public realm.
For more information, visit the Stephen Ave website.