9 Block Program
The area around Calgary’s City Hall – the heart of where decisions about Calgary happen – doesn’t feel safe or vibrant. The City of Calgary has identified an opportunity for collaboration with downtown community partners to pilot quick solutions in the nine blocks that surround City Hall that are aimed improving safety in this important area of the downtown, supporting the neighbourhoods businesses, and finding low-cost, impactful solutions through partnerships.
What are the 9 Blocks?
The boundaries of the 9 Block program are 1 Street S.E., 6 Avenue S.E., 4 Street S.E. and 9 Avenue S.E.
What are the program goals?
The City is working towards Calgary’s economic recovery, with a focus on supporting business, our downtown, and fiscal responsibility. Supporting safety and vibrancy measures is an important piece of The City’s Downtown Strategy. The Downtown Strategy brings together our civic and community partners in a coordinated and collaborative effort to make life better every day for citizens, customers, residents and businesses.
The 9 Block:
- Facilitate innovative collaboration between The City and its community partners
- Improve safety (perceived and real) and support the reduction social disorder in the area
- Improve vibrancy at all times of the day
What are the program focus areas?
Wayfinding, Safety and Outreach
Improving connections in and around City Hall to make this area more welcoming and easier to navigate.
- Working with community partners in the 9 Block area on safety and security initiatives
- Piloting a Downtown Ambassador Program in the 9 Block area and down Stephen Avenue
- Improving connection from Stephen Avenue through City Hall to the Central Library
- Creating better connections throughout the +15 Network
Collaboration with partners
Working better with community partners and area businesses to address safety and assist vulnerable Calgarians.
Working with the Calgary Police Service, Calgary Transit and internal City teams to collect data and better understand issues in the area.
The 9 Block program helps advance the Community Action on Mental Health and Addiction. Partners from across the community are coming together work on new and innovative ways to improve support for mental health and addiction issues in Calgary.
Programming and Vibrancy
Utilizing our public spaces in the 9 Block area better and making these spaces easier for the public to use.
- Simplifying the permitting process for Calgarians to book and access our public spaces
- Supporting more community group programming and bookings in the City Hall Atrium
- Adding more vibrancy to the area through art
Downtown Ambassador Pilot Project
The City of Calgary and the Calgary Downtown Association have partnered, along with other stakeholders like Tourism Calgary and Alpha House Society, to create a Downtown Ambassador pilot for the 9 Block/Stephen Avenue area.
Downtown Ambassadors are connecting Calgarians and visitors to information on services, places and supports in the downtown. The primary focus for the ambassadors is outreach, safety, and cleanliness, providing a presence to the area.
Working as part of a team, the ambassadors connect Calgarians and visitors to information on services, places and supports in the city. Ambassadors are also building ties with local businesses, community organizations as well as socially and economically diverse citizens who may be spending time in the area.
The primary focus for the ambassadors is outreach, safety, and cleanliness, providing a presence to the area.
Our team of six ambassadors will provide coverage Monday-Saturday between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Sundays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. You’ll be able to recognize the ambassadors in their red jackets.
If you’d like to get in touch with our Downtown Ambassadors, you can do so by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (403) 215-1567. Our phone line is typically monitored Monday-Saturday between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Sundays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The position is managed by the Calgary Downtown Association, with The City providing support through the 9 Block Program and The Future of Stephen Avenue project.
This pilot will be in place over a six-month period, after which it will be evaluated and a determination will be made on future sustainment. Funding for the first phase of the pilot is provided by Change Can’t Wait!, an initiative of the Community Action on Mental Health and Addiction (CAMHA). For more information about the CAMHA, please visit calgary.ca/communityaction.
The City/University of Calgary Placemaking Project
The City and the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) have partnered to have students analyze the area and propose improvements in the 9 Blocks.
Through the Urban Alliance – the research partnership between The City of Calgary and the University of Calgary – students were hired to design and implement improvements in the area this summer. This work allows for thoughtful, innovative solutions to be developed for some of the issues that impact the area and provides real-word experience for students in the area that they interact with every day, as they attend school.
The installation of a canopy and lighting at the transit stop in front of SAPL on Macleod Trail S.E. was completed at the end of October. Students from SAPL designed and created this installation to improve the real and perceived safety and vibrancy issues in their neighbourhood. The canopy and improved lighting provides more visibility at the stop during night time hours – highlighted as an ongoing safety issues by students, people who work in the neighbourhood, and neighbourhood businesses.
*Photo credit: Design by Mauricio Soto Rubio, Raye Liu, Shelby Christensen, Ji Song and Jonathan Monfries
Coordinated Safety and Security Pilot
The Coordinated Safety and Security Pilot (CSSP) is made up of security representatives from 9 Block area organizations and institutions including the Calgary Public Library, Bow Valley College, Arts Commons and the Glenbow Museum, as well as the Calgary Police Service, City uniform services and social services, such as Alpha House. The CSSP has established a steering committee, alongside a working group to develop focus areas and implement strategies for these areas. The three focus areas identified and being worked through include:
- Training – shared training for working with vulnerable people
- Data/information coordination – an agreement and method for all partners to report and track incidents and activities
- Communication coordination – improving communication between all partners in the area to share information rapidly
+15 Stairwell Project
The stairwell leading from the Calgary Police Building down to the City Hall C-Train platform was identified as a security and safety concern early on this year. One of the focuses for the 9 Block program is creating better connections throughout the +15 network, so addressing this issue was made a priority.
The City took a small-scale approach to improve safety and vibrancy for this important connection to public transit. A mural was painted in this stairwell and improved lighting was installed, along with an improved security conduit for users.
While the 9 Block program will officially wrap at the end of 2020, The City is working towards long-term sustainment for the Downtown Ambassador pilot and the Coordinated Safety and Security Committee. Partnerships with the University of Calgary and the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape will also continue well into the future.
Moving into 2021, 9 Block program work will be integrated into the Downtown Strategy to ensure that this work continues on.