In a city known for endless urban sprawl, Calgary’s core has always struggled to support an urban community. Past five o’clock, the heart of downtown west of Centre Street is a ghost town despite being just minutes from vibrant communities such as Kensington, Inglewood and the city’s network of busy riverside pathways.
But a $1-billion redevelopment of the city’s historic Eau Claire Market Mall and the development of surface parking lots immediately to the west of the Mall – both slated for mixed-use urban villages and both hoping to break soil this year – could change that...
...Chris Hardwicke from O2 Planning and Design, a Calgary firm that is designing neighbouring parking lot development, West Eau Claire, believes antiquated winter city planning contributed to the failure of the original Market Mall development.
“Winter city planning is pretty out-dated; the last study undertaken on plus 15’s was back in 1986,” he explains. “That’s not to say plus 15’s don’t have their place, the original development certainly should have had one, but you need to utilize and interact with outdoor space, too. You can’t just internalize everything.
“I’d even argue that Calgary isn’t a true winter city: The climate can be temperate here because of chinooks and the large amount of sunshine. You have to consider that in urban planning.”
He continues: “Eau Claire Mall was built using old-school winter city design: it’s isolated from its surroundings by huge parking lots, it faces away from the public plaza and has a lot of dead space around its edges. The overall effect is very uninviting. It’s poor urbanism.”