Why it’s time to enact change on Stephen Avenue

Stephen Avenue is, and always has been, Calgary’s iconic downtown main street. It has played various roles and functions over its history to ensure it stays a vital part of working and living downtown. The success of Stephen Avenue is inextricably linked to the success of our downtown. It provides a wide array of amenities to downtown office workers, residents, local visitors and tourists who visit to dine, shop, play, and enjoy the many arts and culture offerings available on any given day.

We are embarking on an exciting journey to reimagine Stephen Avenue and position it for a renewed era of success. As a flagship project for Calgary’s Downtown Strategy, The Future of Stephen Avenue project provides a foundation for The City to collaborate with stakeholders to consider and implement strategic improvements – whether near, medium or longer term – that will re-position Stephen Avenue, and ensure its future as Calgary’s hallmark downtown main street.

What’s happening now: Activate and Experiment

The Activate and Experiment phase envisions long-term change on Stephen Avenue by testing ideas to better understand and measure the impacts of change along downtown’s main street. Through this phase we’ll be making temporary changes to the Avenue. The goal is to bring Calgarians on board throughout the process, before making any investments in a permanent redesign. The City will accomplish this by:

  • Enacting change – working with downtown partners to test ideas through public space activations, design ideas, and public safety improvements
  • Quantify change – measure the impacts of each idea/experiment and use the findings to help determine long-term solutions
  • Communicate change – engage with Calgarians and visitors to help determine the success of these ideas and experiments

Learn about our activations and provide feedback

  • Winter City Design Competition

    The City and the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape are inviting designers, artists and students to imagine the possibilities for winter city design along Stephen Avenue.

    Learn about this and tell us what you think 
  • 1 Street S.W. Corner Pollinator Bed + Seating

    We’re experimenting with planting ideas and seating on this corner to create a green oasis right in the middle of downtown’s main street.

    Incorporating nature into the urban areas has been proven to have a positive impact on people’s well-being, biodiversity, stormwater retention and air quality.

    And great public spaces require places for people to sit, take a moment, have a conversation or watch the world go by.

    Learn about this and tell us what you think 
  • Centre Street Corner Seating

    We’re experimenting with a more social future on Stephen Avenue

    We’re testing out different types of seating along the Avenue to understand what people are drawn to and to make more seating available These seats will be reconfigured every summer and winter, to test out different configurations and learn what works best.

    Learn about this and tell us what you think 
  • YYC/LRT: Community based art & engagement

    We’re experimenting with a more creative and engaging future on Stephen Avenue.

    The City of Calgary and the University of Calgary have teamed up to brighten and enliven a key intersection on Stephen Avenue leading into Calgary’s densest residential neighbourhood, Downtown West.

    YYC/LRT is a public sculpture, shadow projection device, satellite studio and place for creative public engagement created by Bryan Faubert and stewarded by the University of Calgary.

    Learn about this and tell us what you think 


The vision

Stephen Avenue is Calgary’s main connector to arts, culture and commerce and offers a stage for experimentation and innovation.

A 21st century street, Stephen Avenue links Calgary’s walkable urban core to its neighbourhoods through a great public realm. Active day and night, and throughout the year, Stephen Avenue is a catalyst for a resilient economy, enabling adaptation towards Calgary’s future. As Calgary’s premier local and tourist destination, Stephen Avenue fosters social interaction, civic gathering, and community pride.

Goals for Stephen Avenue

Arts, culture and commerce

  • Make Stephen Avenue’s cultural assets more visible and integrated with the avenue, allowing for greater access to, and participation in, arts, culture & education.
  • Promote economic resiliency of the Greater downtown by providing diverse retail and commercial experiences, combined with hybrid building uses.
  • Amplify the human environment, celebrate heritage buildings, and provide varied ground floor uses and a rhythm of active building facades.

Experimentation and innovation

  • Provide opportunities for public engagement and experimentation by working with downtown partners and removing bureaucratic barriers.

Network and connection

  • Promote environmental resiliency through green street links between the downtown core and the Bow riverfront.
  • Make Stephen Avenue easy to navigate for all ages and abilities.
  • Make walking a great experience – a rhythm of connected points of interest to spur curiosity and invite people to wander, explore and linger.

Programs and activation

  • Foster socialization and gathering, while making everyone feel welcome.
  • Activate Stephen Avenue at all hours of the day, throughout the year, to build a lively urban neighbourhood.
  • Ensure public safety through codes of positive social behaviour, mixed use development with “eyes on the street” and innovative security design solutions.


The Stephen Avenue Streetscape Master Plan will focus on 8 Avenue S. in the downtown core – from Olympic Plaza (Macleod Trail S.E.) to Mewata Armoury (11 Street S.W.).