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Downtown Calgary Scorecard

Q1 - June 28, 2019

State of Calgary's Economy:
GDP Growth - 1.9% (forecast) │ Jobs - 895,300 │ Population - 1,267,300


Construction value: $307 Million

Building permits: 212

Downtown Beltline office sales: $2.8 Million

Average office net rental rate:
  • ​Downtown - $11.69/sq.ft.
  • Beltline - $14.32/sq.ft

Office absorption volume: 335,334 sq.ft.

Types of Industries Represented:
  • ​28% Professional, scientific & technical services
  • 10% Mining, quarrying, and oil & gas extraction
  • 9% Finance and Insurance
  • 6% Retail trade
  • 5% Accommodation and food service
  • 5% Healthcare & social assistance
  • 37% Other (<5% per category)

Business count: 5,727

Inventory: Office 48,450,170 sq.ft., Retail 12,776,878 sq.ft.


Population: 43,492 (3.43% of the total Calgary population)

Events: 69 events - 314,174 attendance

Downtown Hotel Inventory: 3,698 rooms

Total Residential Units: 35,153
  • 18,600 owned (53%)
  • 12,183 rented (35%)
  • 4,370 affordable (12%)

42% of respondents agree that the Centre City is a desirable place to live

Modes of transportation travelling to and from Downtown:
  • Cars - 54%
  • Transit - 33%
  • Walking - 10%
  • Cycling - 3%
Rideshare & Taxi:
  • Pick-ups - 350,468
  • Drop-offs - 305,435

Glossary of terms​

Story behind the numbers

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Row Count: 4
ListCat: Scorecard
ID: 2502

Office absorption volume is the net change in occupied space, measured in square footage, over a specified timeframe, and takes into consideration newly constructed space. Commonly, it is reported from one quarter to the next.

In the first quarter of 2019, there was positive office space absorption of 335,000 square feet in Calgary’s downtown. The average office net rental rate was $11.69 per square foot in downtown, and $14.32 per square foot in Beltline. There were 212 building permits issued during the first quarter of 2019, with a construction value of $307 million.

Innovation Activates Vacant Downtown Spaces

Due to an innovative agreement between The City of Calgary and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) and the drive to find a new way to utilize vacant spaces in the downtown core, the Castell Building (better known as “the old central library”) has been activated once more. The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary has opened their community-based outpost for teaching, research and community collaboration called the City Building Design Lab. The lab will provide students with opportunities to connect with the planning and development industry to explore how innovations in design and construction can make cities more sustainable.

Calgary’s Strategic Group is also finding creative ways to activate empty spaces by converting offices into apartments. One such example is Cube, a former Alberta Health Services office, which has been converted into a seven-storey apartment complex. The City of Calgary worked with Strategic Group to find ways to make this conversion, and others like it, possible through the development process.

Revitalizing Calgary's Iconic Stephen Avenue Walk

Most office workers leave the core at the end of their work day, which results in Stephen Avenue not being as vibrant or animated on weekends and evenings as it is during the day. This is Stephen Avenue’s greatest challenge — drawing people in for more than just a place to go for lunch or after work. The City is focused on creating an experience that will draw people in. This is why revitalization efforts through the Stephen Avenue Master Plan are a priority for Calgary, with the aim of making downtown a vibrant place for all people,
at all times.

Among the efforts to revitalize Stephen Avenue is the $33-million redevelopment of Stephen Avenue Place (previously Scotia Centre) by Slate Management. This includes the addition of three levels of restaurant and retail space to help make Stephen Avenue a vibrant hub for activities. In a second instance of Strategic Group’s efforts, the historic Barron Building on Stephen Avenue is being converted from a full office building into a mixed-use building. This will feature a combination of office, retail, and residential spaces in the heart of Calgary’s downtown.

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Calgary’s business landscape is evolving. According to the North American Industry Classification System, 28 per cent of the industry in Calgary is professional, scientific and technical services. As new companies are attracted to Calgary through the work of partners like Calgary Economic Development, a change is occurring in the type of industries opening up offices – more tech companies, less oil and gas. According to Calgary Economic Development, Calgary has seen a 55 per cent increase in technology companies since 2015.

In addition, Calgary is starting to see a shift in the movement of businesses from out of the downtown - both new businesses are coming into the core, and existing businesses are starting to move back.

Have the tides shifted? Calgary Businesses Moving Back to Downown

Companies who vacated the core 10 years ago are starting to transition back into newly renovated buildings with a focus on being part of the energy of downtown. For example, Golder moved out of the downtown core in October 2008, and come September 2019, the company, with about 300 employees, will occupy four floors in Stephen Avenue Place. In a news release, Greg Herasymuik, Golder’s president for Canadian operations, suggested the location, design and amenities in the new Calgary headquarters are some of the reasons for the shift back downtown.

Calgary's Food Trucks Get Ready for Summer Service and Festival Season

In May, The City of Calgary hosted a food truck inspection blitz to make sure Calgary’s 90 food trucks are safe to operate. Bringing the food truck owners, who are considered small business owners, together allowed the inspection and permit process to be streamlined. In partnership with Alberta Health Services, the blitz was held to prepare the food truck owners for the summer and festival season by ensuring their permits and inspections were current. Since their start in 2010, food trucks can be found daily on our downtown streets or at one of the many events hosted in downtown Calgary. The food trucks contribute to creating the community network within downtown, so ensuring the food trucks are safe and ready for summer and festival season is important to make sure these businesses can operate without delay.

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One of the key indicators of the vibrancy of a place is the people within it. This includes those who live within Calgary’s downtown, and those who choose to visit it. The population of the downtown core – the number of people permanently residing there – in the 2018 Census is close to 43,000. Additional information collected in the 2016 census tells us that this number includes approximately 2,000 children (aged 0 to 14). It is important to note that about six per cent of downtown residents are 14 or under, while this demographic makes up 19 per cent of the population in the rest of the city.

Arts and culture are a major attraction for visitors, both locally and from outside of the city. During 2018, a total of 129 events were hosted in Calgary’s downtown, drawing more than three million attendees downtown.

Living Downtown Offers Unique Family Activities

With downtown’s high density, ensuring adequate amenities for Calgarians of all ages presents unique challenges due to a lack of space. This means that The City of Calgary must ensure that the available green spaces are used in the most valuable manner possible. One example of this is the redevelopment of a former lawn bowling site into Thomson Family Park in the Beltline. The natural topography of the space inspired a creative design for a playground – a winding slide is built into a hill in the park. A bowling green has been kept as a nod to the site’s history, which is turned into a skating rink during the winter months. This offers fun activities for children and their families year-round.

Bring the Downtown Core to Life Through Arts, Culture, and Events

Attendance at major events hosted downtown is expected to increase in 2019. During the first part of the year, Calgarians enjoyed a variety of unique events, including the kick-off to Calgary hosting the 2019 Grey Cup, the Glow Downtown Winter Light Festival, public screenings of the Flames’ playoff games, and more. There were a total of 69 events and festivals hosted downtown, which attracted more than 314,000 attendees to the core.

Safety and cleanliness are important factors for vibrancy in drawing people downtown. The majority of Calgarians feel that downtown is safe and clean (69 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively), with many feeling that safety and cleanliness have (12 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively).​

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Innovation is the key to Calgary’s recovery. As part of The City of Calgary’s commitment to invest in the innovation ecosystem, we work with companies, researchers and individuals to test and try ideas and products in a real-life environment, which we call Living Labs. A Living Lab supports increased economic diversification and jobs for Calgarians. It can help entrepreneurs bring big ideas to fruition and support investment in our local economy.

Smart City: Long Range, Low Power Technology

The connectivity in today’s world is astounding. Technology has become integrated into our daily lives in ways that are seamless, complex and full of promise. The City of Calgary aims to be an early adopter of new technologies that help us better serve citizens. We are the first Canadian city that built and owns a new type of wireless network.

The City collaborated with the University of Calgary and IoT developers from the local industry to create the network that provides wireless signal coverage for a large footprint in the Calgary region, including the busy downtown core. Thanks to The City’s investment in the underlying communication infrastructure since 2000, we built the LoRaWAN network with minimal additional cost.

In the downtown core, Calgary’s Devonian Gardens uses LoRa-based devices to measure soil conditions for urban canopy maintenance and water valve status remotely, which saves time, conserves resources and provides more accurate and timely data. By utilizing LoRa-based devices to gain an understanding of fundamental characteristics such as air, water, light and humidity, Calgary can provide more efficient predictive care to these plants.

Creating Sustainable Transportation Solutions to Make Life Better Every Day for Generations to Come

The City of Calgary is committed to fostering an environmentally sustainable community by providing the leadership to conserve, protect and improve the environment for the benefit of Calgarians and the regional community.

With more investment into bike lanes, bike accessibility, and overall infrastructure, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the use of bikes in Downtown Calgary has significantly increased. The first recorded Cordon Count, which collects and analyzes data of different travel modes entering and exiting Calgary’s downtown on a regular weekday, was conducted in 1991. The 2018 Cordon Count showed that 18,117 cyclists per day entered and exited the same area. Within 27 years of tracking, there was a 679 per cent increase in bicycle users.

In April 2019, the City also invested in electric vehicle charging stations in Downtown parkades. Transitioning 48 charging stations in Calgary Parking Authority parkades and kiosks to EVs is seen as the best way to reduce emissions among drivers, who are expected to be increasingly shifting towards electric vehicles in coming years.