Stephen Avenue getting a makeover? City seeks design proposals

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WATCH: The City of Calgary has put out a call for design proposals for the revamp of the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall. But as Tomasia DaSilva reports, not everyone is sold on the multi-million dollar project – Apr 4, 2019

Calgary’s iconic pedestrian mall is getting a makeover.

The City of Calgary announced Thursday it is looking for design and landscape architecture firms to reimagine Stephen Avenue.

Spokesperson Michael Magnan said in a news release they are searching for a new design that will “make Stephen Avenue better for Calgarians and visitors.”

The pedestrian walkway runs along 8 Avenue S.W. between 4 Street S.W. and 1 Street S.E., and features stores, restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs.

READ MORE: ‘Time for a refresh’: City of Calgary looking at Stephen Avenue revamp

The street is busy and bustling during the work week, but not utilized as much on weekends.

“Once office workers leave [the downtown core] at the end of the day, the vibrancy of Stephen Avenue drops off,” Magnan said.
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“We are looking to invigorate Stephen Avenue to help the area reach its fullest potential as a unique destination and place, whether it’s during the day, evening or weekend.”

One of the issues on Stephen Avenue that the city wants to address is the “social disorder,” with a news release saying they want to help “citizens feel safe.”

They also want to “balance mobility” for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists, goods, and vehicles.

Interested parties have until April 19 to submit their proposals. For more information you visit

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But not everyone is sold on the multi-million dollar makeover.

Like many small businesses in Calgary, the Blue Vinny Diner has struggled of late.

Dwaine Boser says the downtown is a ghost town, not nearly as vibrant as it used to be.

And while a revitalized Stephen Avenue may help somewhat, Boser said what’s really needed is tax breaks for struggling small businesses.

“I think it’s just a waste of money,” Boser said. “And it will take them four or five years to even begin to do anything — by that time a lot of the small businesses will be gone.”

— With files from Global News’ Tomasia DaSilva

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