Inspiring a conversation to transform Calgary's 17th Avenue Red Mile



The 17th Ave S Retail & Entertainment District has become a place where Calgarians from all around the city shop and socialize. A three year reconstruction project of 17th Ave will deliver some positive gains to the corridor however once the project is complete the form and function of the avenue will remain similar to the way it was. An opportunity has been missed to make multi-modal improvements and reimagine how businesses along the entire corridor are accessed by Calgarians from the city’s fastest growing regions meaning that businesses will have to suffer through construction pain with little gain.

Four key strategic goals are being proposed to improve access to businesses in the district:

  • Recognize that patrons from Calgary’s fast growing suburbs will most likely drive to the districtand have an aversion to parallel parking. The proposed goal is to make it as easy as possible for someone driving to the district for the first time to navigate their way to an open parking spot.
  • Create a partnership between the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA), the 17th Ave BRZorganisation and the land-owners who control off-street parking around the district. The partnership would work to standardize parking rates along the 17th Ave S corridor.
  • Install ‘number of available space’ counters in off-street lots that participate in the partnership and link this information to improved wayfinding signage along 17th Ave to increase awareness and usage of off-street parking.
  • Have the CPA partner with developers to include an off-street public parking component as part of any new large-scale developments proposed for the district.

  • Recognize that the ‘heart’ of the district currently sits around 8th St and 17th Ave SW and that the further distance to the east or west that businesses are located from this spot the less likely it is those businesses will receive visits by patrons drawn to the district. The proposed goal is that whether patrons drive, take transit or walk to any location in the district, they are encouraged to visit multiple businesses along the entire length of the 17th Ave corridor.
  • Begin a three year bike-share pilot program along the 17th Ave corridor with stations placed close to off-street parking lots and important transit stops. Ensure that the bikes are equipped with baskets to encourage people to shop as they explore the avenue.
  • Consider expanding a successful bike-share program throughout the rest of the centre city to draw more tourists, residents and downtown office workers into the district.

  • Recognize that the inner city is one of Calgary’s fastest growing areas and that these residents stand to be the most frequent patrons for businesses. The proposed goal is that cycling becomes a mode choice equal to driving or transit for these residents to access the district.
  • Install 1.45 metre wide cycle tracks on both the north and south sides of 17th Ave through the elimination of one lane of traffic.
  • Leverage the safety of the cycle tracks to encourage the use of the bike-share pilot program as well as to promote the use of pedi-cabs (bike taxis) along the corridor.

  • Recognize that 17th Ave is an integral part of Calgary’s road network and that on-street parking is important to area businesses. The proposed goal is to minimize the disruption the elimination of a lane to accommodate the installation of cycle tracks has to both commuters and businesses.
  • Create a lane reversal system for the three road lanes that would remain along the corridor to maintain two lanes of traffic flow in peak directions during rush hour periods. Install priority turn signals to minimize disruptions.
  • Maintain on-street parking along the south side of 17th Ave and look for ways, such as removing parking restriction in front of Western Canada High School outside of school pick-up and drop-off hours, to increase the number of available parking spaces.
  • Improve alley-ways to enhance delivery options to businesses and create designated delivery and taxi drop-off zones on side streets along the north side of the corridor to help compensate for the loss of on-street parking.

By adopting these four strategic goals and implementing them during the current road reconstruction project, 17th Avenue will be transformed into a true complete street. This will improve Calgarians’ access to the entire retail and entertainment district and offer incentives for more people to visit area businesses regardless of their preferred mode of transportation. In doing so, it is hoped that this will launch 17th Avenue into its next phase of growth and create a vibrant corridor from end to end.

Download our full proposal

17th Ave S Red Mile Complete Street Proposal (pdf)


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