Resilient Calgary: Council’s Strategic Direction 2023-2026
Calgary is a resilient city. Time and again, we come together, support each other, learn from our experience and use our shared journey to set new goals. As a Council, all our decisions are guided by economic, social and climate resilience.
Council’s foundation for 2023-2026
A city where everyone participates in a strong, diverse economy. We remove barriers for business success, enabling businesses to start, grow and invest in our city. We are an incredible destination and a great place to live, work, grow and raise a family.
A city where people of all backgrounds belong. A community of people who support one another. A vibrant, safe and secure place to live, work and play. A city that does not tolerate hate; promotes community engagement and participation and actively works to address systemic discrimination in all forms. We live our commitment to reconciliation.
A city that recognizes the climate emergency and does its part to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. A more sustainable community that can manage the impacts of severe weather events; reduce emissions; build our green economy and play an active role in climate innovation.
Council’s guiding principles
Building public trust and confidence matters to us. We will create meaningful connections by consulting with Calgarians. We will listen, share timely information and promote meaningful opportunities for Calgarians to participate in their government. As Council, we strive to provide strong community leadership.
Building on a strong foundation, Council will work with Administration to deliver quality services and programs that Calgarians care about, continuing to build a customer service culture that puts people first. In our effort to continuously improve, we measure citizen satisfaction and take these results seriously.
Great cities are built on a diversity of great neighbourhoods, planned and developed to ensure access, ease of transportation, social equality, and an appropriate combination of key amenities. These elements along with support for local businesses and leaders help communities to develop and thrive.
We will make strategic infrastructure investments to enhance quality of life and support Calgarians’ desires to be connected to people and places, recreate year-round, and live, work, and play together. We will invest to maintain what we have today while planning for the future.
We will provide leadership to ensure financial sustainability for Calgary. We will ensure that our spending delivers clear value for Calgary and will work to spend more efficiently wherever possible. We will advocate to the provincial and federal governments for legislative change and long-term funding agreements to ensure our revenue is reasonable and predictable.
Council’s focus areas
Calgary’s downtown is more than the heart of our economy, it is a source of pride, a symbol of our city and a gathering place for cultural activities, festivals and entertainment options, for Calgarians and visitors alike. When our downtown flourishes, our city succeeds.
Calgary will work to restore property values in the core, recouping previous investment in our downtown, while restoring a tax advantage for residents and businesses outside the core. To achieve this, Council must invest in the downtown, East Village, The Rivers District, Calgary Stampede, and event centre.
Combined with the potential for new rail links and improved inter-city connectivity, these investments will attract additional private investment in hotel capacity, residential and commercial facilities, and a world-renowned entertainment district capable of attracting top performances.
We will share these opportunities for prosperity with the Blackfoot Confederacy, G4 First Nations, the Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3, and the urban Indigenous population. This includes establishing the Indigenous Gathering Place as one of our commitments to reconciliation.
Revitalizing downtown also impacts our Green Line transit project and the need for a connection to the Calgary International Airport. We will make it easier for all people to gather here: to work, to visit, and to experience all that our city has to offer.
Calgary is a place where everyone should have the ability to succeed. Reducing inequity will deliver a better quality of life for all Calgarians. We will actively correct systemic oppressions and discriminations. We will elevate those trapped in poverty, both on our own and with other orders of government. We will take real action on reconciliation with Indigenous partners.
We will work with federal and provincial governments to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, addictions and systemic racism. We will diversify the range of housing options by increasing transitional and affordable housing and simplifying the pathways to permanent housing. We will work to remove barriers to mental health and addiction supports, creating multiple pathways to being housed and fully supported.
Ensuring robust and diverse social agencies and associations are better equipped to manage these issues will also support the Calgary Police Service to focus more energy on ensuring every Calgarian is safe.
Modern local area plans and a reformed land use bylaw will be key to a more affordable housing future, with minimum climate impact.
Calgarians want an accessible and equitable engagement process that enables their voices to be heard and considered by Council, as actions are taken towards the creation of housing, and commercial and industrial projects. Council will work to listen to and balance different points of view, aiming for meaningful dialogue on the kind of city we will be.
Land use bylaw reform will ease the development process for individuals and business. This process should be inclusive, imaginative and future- focussed. The resulting bylaw will seek to balance the needs and desires of individual residents and landowners, with the needs of the city and the realities of the climate emergency.
Local area planning will embark on plans for 70 – 80 residential communities and ten industrial areas in the next three years.
Calgary is committed to building a world-class transit system to serve our citizens. Transit addresses climate change; it enables shared prosperity and it binds a city together. We will green our fleet, expand the network, and improve service quality, leveraging the support of federal and provincial partners.
Three hundred buses should be converted to electric, and facilities modernized and relocated. When we modernize and update the light rail vehicle fleet, we’ll use less electricity and become more climate-conscious and cost-effective.
Green Line South must be connected to Green Line North. The Blue Line extension to the proposed North People Mover could connect the airport to a proposed high speed rail line. The Red Line extension will service more people in South Calgary.
Our MAX Transit BRT system is a success we can build on. The 52nd Street MAX BRT has begun, and with investment, will be completed. Purple Line expansion is cost-effective and produces significant value for Calgarians.
We need to improve our Always Available for All Ages and Abilities (5A) infrastructure to provide safe, accessible, affordable, year-round options for transportation for all types of travelers. Transit contributes to social equity and is an important part of our downtown revitalization.
Calgary must stand out to attract new investment and new Calgarians. Hosting major events and promoting local ones demonstrates we are a destination of choice. This attracts further events, building culture and vibrancy. If we are to revive our hotel and tourism industries and build our cultural ones, we need to commit to more activity.
Calgary has many significant events such as winter World Cup sporting competitions, the Calgary Stampede, Folk Festival, Chinook Blast and many other community festivals. We will continue to build on these events to spark success in the future.
By seeking major events, Council signals a commitment to related industries. Major events will be an integral part of achieving the Downtown Revitalization Plan, and updating Calgary’s brand on the international stage. More international exposure increases Calgary’s competitive edge.
How is Calgary seen and understood at home and abroad? With one of the most diverse populations in Canada and changing values around climate, fossil fuels and a shift to clean tech and renewable energy, The City must work with its brand ambassadors and promotional agencies to refocus and promote our brand.
Currently, Calgary’s brand is of a successful city, based primarily on access to natural resources, including agriculture and energy.
We are a city which values and celebrates our culture, heritage and diversity and the values we share. We value opportunity, talent attraction and retention, and our actions show we value each other.
Our brand in the future must connect who we are as Calgarians with the land we occupy. The land at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers has long been inhabited by Indigenous peoples and has served as a gathering place. We will work to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous partners and continue to welcome newcomers, working together to achieve great things.
These are the values that are woven into the fabric of Calgary’s identity. A rebranding will help us communicate these values outwardly to the world.
Whether it is faster snow removal or more intuitive permitting processes, speed and quality matter. Achieving ‘faster and better’ service for citizens will involve reviewing policies and processes for innovative improvements, and promoting financial resiliency in collaboration with federal, provincial and regional partners.
Calgary requires an updated Police Act and Local Authorities Election Act, to remedy changes of the past which have caused confusion, and unintended consequences.
We will continue to strengthen our relationship with the federal government, and our relationship with the provincial government should be productive, collaborative and complementary.
The Municipal Government Act should enable predictable revenue, and opportunities for revenue sharing.
By changing the way city government functions, we enhance transparency, social equity, encourage investment, achieve our transit goals more effectively, and further build the strength of our brand.