Context and Questions

 Image courtesy of Iconothon

The Calgary Context


For thousands of years, people of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Iyarhe Nakoda and the Historic Northwest Métis have lived at the confluence of two rivers: the Bow and the Elbow. In this location, the city of Calgary was formed. It was, and still is, a city born of a powerful convergence of people, ideas and place. 

As one of Canada’s larger cities, Calgary, with a panoramic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, is home to a history rich in indigenous culture, and western flavour arising from cattle ranching and agriculture industries. Although historically rooted in its oil and gas industry, there are signs of an energy industry diversifying: the Alberta Climate Leadership Plan targets the development of 5,000 MW of renewable energy by 2030 in the Province.

Calgary is home to several major cultural attractions and festivals year round. One of four Provincial stand alone Art Colleges in Canada is located in Calgary. Major facilities such as the National Music Centre and Telus Spark Science Centre and festivals such as Calgary Folk Music Festival, Sled Island, Block Heater Winter Music Festival and Global Fest further diversify the access to the arts and culture in the city known for the Calgary Stampede.


Calgary’s urban form has evolved through the influence of movement and mobility. Calgary’s first settlement at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers is still known as Fort Calgary, and the community of Inglewood is rich in history and character. Following the movement of goods and people along the river ways and along very old trails, early residential development and settlements were formed.  Many of the old trails that have been in use for thousands of years are still in use today—one of Calgary’s first free-ways, the Crowchild Trail, was built over one of these trails.

The introduction of the railway precipitated the development of manufacturing and industrial districts. Communities such as Ogden, Lynnwood and Millican popped up around the railway, expanding the City’s industries and residential communities. 

Calgary’s first transit was introduced in 1909 with the opening of the city’s streetcar service. Buses were introduced in the 1930s and by 1950, motor and electric trolley buses had fully replaced the streetcar system. The next decade would see the automobile transform the landscape of the city with increased suburban development and sprawl. 

Further reaching communities and services defined greater need for rapid transit. Calgary’s first LRT line opened in 1981 with 10.9 km of track. Today, two lines with 45 stations and 59.9 km of track transport nearly 300,000 passengers each weekday and is recognized as one of the most successful LRT systems in North America. The Green Line LRT is Calgary’s next light rail line offering more transportation choices for Calgarians and creating new opportunities for community development, mobility options and thriving businesses along the alignment. 

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Calgary is a young and active city with over 800 km of outdoor pathways and bikeways and home to several major sports teams. Three decades after hosting the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics, the city continues to attract athletes and sporting competitions as a result of its training facilities.

The Economist Group ranks Calgary, globally, the fifth most livable city, and the city has also laid claim to the second highest small business concentration of major cities in Canada. Opportunities in the city are created by the diverse population that dwells within this city, as can be evidenced by nearly 140 mother tongue languages spoken.

Calgary is a mountain high city and the dry climate reflects its location and altitude. Summer days are hot with cool evenings. Winters are filled with snow, and deep freezes that last for a few weeks. One of the most distinctive characteristics of Calgary’s winters are its chinooks that bring warm winds that melt the snow. A fun fact, Calgarians enjoy over 330 days of sunshine, more days year-round than any other major Canadian City.


Frequently Asked Questions

Queries about the competition will be answered on a first come basis. This page will be frequently updated with answers. Registrants may also opt in to receive answers via email. 

Q1: What is the subject of the call?

The subject is to develop an idea about movement. You can display your idea with a design or a concept on two digital boards. We’re seeking ideas about the future of how people will move throughout their city and the community that they will convene. This call seeks ideas on the future of movement for all people in the city. Choose something to improve. Let transit be the vector of change. Your idea submission is the story of how to instigate that change. 

Q2: What is the format of the deliverable that the jury will review?

The format for the submission will be two digital boards. The two boards are submitted in PDF format (864 x1118mm or 34x44in in size, portrait orientation). The registration number must be on each board and the boards must be free of author identity. The content on the two boards is left up to you as the best way to express the movement challenge and how your idea solves this challenge. The boards may include text and any visual medium (plan, section, rendering, diagram, illustration, images). If text is included please insure it is legible. A general guideline of fewer than 250 words on the boards is recommended for clarity and legibility. But the presentation of the idea is left up to you. Please condense the images as the boards must not exceed 10MB in total. The detail about the submission can be found on page 11 of the registration hand-out. 

Q3: What are the areas that can be included in a competition entry?

Your idea can fit into one of the seven categories: (1)technology (2) climate sustainability (3) memory (4) public is for everyone (5) resilience (6) a tactical idea (7) provocative and visionary. If an idea fits into more than one category, the jury will find the category of best fit for the idea. There is a bit more detail about each category here and in the registration hand-out on page 8.

Q4: Must an idea be part of the Green Line development?

You can submit any idea that generates new approaches to movement in Calgary, and that creates a more connected, inclusive and accessible city. The Green Line is the seed of the idea for this call, but it is not essential to incorporate the Green Line into your movement idea.