As early on as 1994, the International Avenue BRZ has worked to improve the urban landscape, with the installation of benches and trash receptacles to create a better pedestrian environment.
We realized that the area was mainly designed for vehicular traffic and was not welcoming to other users. The strategy was to have a number of short-term improvement projects to enhance the area. This included development of the mini-park at 3111 17 Ave SE named Unity Park, and the over 300 trees planted between 1998 – 2000 under the Putting the Forest in Forest Lawn program throughout the 17th Avenue SE area.
To ensure the longevity of trees, special pits were designed to ensure the maximum amount of soil for the benefit of life of the trees. This innovative work is now standard City policy pioneered right here on International Avenue.
Later on, through the GFL Fund in 2007, we worked with Calgary Roads Department with the help of Malcolm Ho-you to improve sidewalks and safety issues throughout. These improvements were badly needed, but also holding the area back was a City approved 1975 Calts Plan.
The Calts Plan proposed the widening of the street, increasing traffic speeds and recommended a number of road closures – 23 in all – under the approved Transportation Plan. The BRZ was opposed to this plan feeling it would not benefit our existing businesses nor the community.
Initially, the BRZ hired Wiseman and Associates to develop an optimium alternative plan for the area.
The Vision for Renewal International Avenue plan was completed in 1995. The plan called for wider, safer sidewalks, promoted traffic calming and public gathering spaces along the corridor. The plan was not approved by the City of Calgary and was contrary to their approved polices. As such, we at the BRZ chose to take small steps to achieve a better community by incorporating amenities and improvements wherever possible almost exclusively at our own cost.
We still continue to maintain a number of these amenities today including the trash receptacles, benches, mini park, banners, purchase hanging baskets, flower pots, graffiti abatement, litter control, art, and the centre median clock and area.
For more information on the award-winning vision for the area created by the BRZ, community and the University of Calgary, visit our page about the International Avenue Design Initiative.
In addition, we are circulated on all development permits and land use redesignations. We continue to raise the community standards where possible and have been instrumental in decreasing negative uses within the zone.
Examples of site amenities which have been installed over the years. Here are some improvements made:
36 Street SE
41 Street SE
Between 2004 – 2005, the BRZ partnered with the Faculty of Environmental Design at the U of C to create a state of the art, award-winning urban design plan called Envisioning International Avenue (visit our International Avenue Design Initiative page on our website for more information regarding the plan). This then led to the next stage of the process working with the City to upgrade the planning documents for the area.
The BRZ along with the community worked with the City of Calgary to develop a corridor strategy for International Avenue after in 2007-2010.
Vision and guiding principles include:
- Create an Attractive, Distinctive, Multicultural Community,
- Create Memorable and Inviting Public Places,
- Create a Mulit-modal Boulevard along Southeast 17,
- Promote Mixed-Use Development,
- Respect and Enhance Exisiting “High Street” character,
- Promote Housing Diversity,
- Strategically Directed Densification,
- Promote Safety and Walkability,
- Preserve and Enhance Environmentally Sensitive Areas, and
- Promote Innovative, Sustainable Building Design.
The Urban Design and Transportation Plan was approved in July 2010 at City Council. City Council on November 14, 2011 has approved the project for GreenTRIP funding. We are excited to work with the City in developing a new and improved International Avenue together. Look for details this November.