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.

image showing boundaries

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
  • Dedicated Downtown Ambassador and HELP teams, provided by Alpha House, in the 9 Block and Stephen Avenue areas
  • 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

Dedicated Downtown Ambassador and HELP teams, provided by Alpha House, support vulnerable individuals in our community. If you are looking for support, reach out to:

Team Phone number
Ambassador Team 587-438-2523 (7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 7 days/week)
HELP Team 403-998-7388
Encampment Team 403-805-7388
Needle Response Team 403-796-5334
Transit Team 403-827-7106

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. 

Next Steps

While the 9 Block program will officially wrap at the end of 2020, The City is working towards long-term sustainment for downtown outreach support efforts 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.

This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​