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Context and Questions

 
 
 
 Image courtesy of Iconothon

The Calgary Context

History

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.


Movement

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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Today

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.

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