Project Update - November 2023

We are excited to share that the Conceptual Streetscape Master Plan design is now complete!

The Master Plan is a guiding document that provides a framework and conceptual design to achieve the vision set for a revitalized Stephen Avenue. Construction budget confirmation will determine how and when the project moves to implementation.

To learn more about the Master Plan, please visit

Phase 2: Conceptual Streetscape Master Plan

Welcome to The Future of Stephen Avenue Phase 2 Engagement.

The City of Calgary is continuing an exciting journey to reimagine Stephen Avenue.

Bold, innovative and visionary, this work imagines Stephen Avenue as an exemplary 21st century street that links Calgary’s walkable urban core to its neighbourhoods through a first-in-class public realm. We’re working to make Stephen Avenue a more livable, vibrant, and a thriving downtown destination for citizens, businesses, and visitors to our great city.

Project Area

The project focuses on the streetscape for all of 8 Avenue S/Stephen Avenue. It spans 2.1km from Macleod Trail SE to 11 St SW.

Project Timeline

In 2019 and 2020, the Future of Stephen Avenue project began with a multi-tiered research and engagement process. A project vision was developed along with a series of character areas and multiple streetscape concept design alternatives. This work was shared with interested parties and the public whose input was used to define project priorities and to guide future phases. This work was summarized in the Future of Stephen Avenue Phase 1: Public Realm Action Plan

Vision Statement

Based on engagement and site analysis work in Phase 1, a vision for Stephen Avenue was developed:

The Avenue is Calgary’s main connector to arts, culture and commerce and offers a stage for experimentation and innovation. A 21st century street, the Avenue links Calgary’s walkable urban core to its neighbourhoods through a superlative public realm. Active day and night, and throughout the year, the Avenue is a catalyst for a resilient economy, enabling adaptation towards Calgary’s future. As Calgary’s premier local and tourist destination, the Avenue fosters social interaction, civic gathering, and community pride.

Character Areas

The vision broke Stephen Avenue into three-character areas that build upon existing assets. Each area provides distinct opportunities and potential to support and amplify public life downtown. While one street, each of the areas requires its own programming and amenities that responds to existing and desired character.

The Village:

The Village is an emerging complete neighbourhood with human-scaled, mixed-use developments. The Village reimagines the community of Downtown West as a more sought-after neighbourhood for everyone, from creative youths to empty-nesters, with amenities and a well-connected public space network, providing a platform for everyday life to unfold. The Avenue connects it all and invites every mobility mode to move safely and comfortably throughout the neighbourhood.

The Core:

The Core is the link between the Commons and the Village. Here, thriving businesses bustling with office workers meet high quality small-scale and large-scale retail. The street is a public space for everyday use and events. It’s a platform for people-watching and socializing. This is where the +15 network and the Avenue can be improved through coordinated efforts to blend them together.

The Commons:

The Commons is the epicentre of gathering, idea exchange, arts, culture and civic pride. A vibrant district that draws local and global talent and contributes to the growth of the most innovative sectors of the economy. With a mix of cultural institutions, historical buildings, local retail and high-quality public spaces for both everyday life and large gatherings, the Commons provides a platform for Calgarians and tourists alike to enjoy the best of Calgary in a concentrated area

Street Types

The Avenue was further broken down into two distinct street types: a shared street zone, and a multi-modal street zone. Although the street type differs between the two areas, the designs solutions aim to unify the street creating one continuous streetscape character from Macleod Trail SE to 11th Street SW.

Concept Design Alternatives

Phase 1 explored three concept design alternatives for each of the two street types. The options were presented to the public and interested parties to solicit feedback.

Shared Street:

#1: Symmetrical Shared Street

#2: Symmetrical shared with central commercial zone

#3: Asymmetrical shared street

Multi Modal Street:

#1: Symmetrical grade separated bike lanes

#2: Symmetrical shared bike facilities

#3 Asymmetrical grade separated bike lanes

Visit the following links to learn more about the Phase 1A work.

Fall 2018 - What We Heard Report (Phase 1A)

Winter 2019 - What We Heard Report (Phase 1A)

Winter 2021 - Final Engagement Report (Phase 1A)

Phase 2 Conceptual Streetscape Master Plan

Phase 2 kicked off in the summer of 2022. In the current phase of the project, The City is developing a streetscape master plan that will shape how the future of Stephen Avenue looks, feels and is experienced by Calgarians and visitors. Together, we can help Stephen Avenue realize its potential, and grow into a world-class downtown main street that all Calgarians can be proud of.

Phase 1B: 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

This phase will wrap up Summer 2023. Findings from each project will be reported on and shared with Calgarians.

Learn about our activations and provide feedback

  • Creative Wayfinding Mural

    Beginning May 17, 2023, a creative wayfinding mural will be installed in front and behind the Municipal Building to increase the connection between the Downtown Core and the East Village.


We Need Your Feedback! Please click on the tabs below to review the topics and answer the related questions.

The topics we would like your feedback on are:

  • Topic 1: Key Design Moves
  • Topic 2: Draft Representative Concept Designs
  • Topic 3: Programming Ideas

There is also an Additional Feedback tab where you can share demographic information to tell us about who you are and how you currently use Stephen Avenue.

This feedback, input from City advisory groups, and further technical analysis will be used to develop the final conceptual streetscape master plan. The final plan will be revealed in Fall of 2023.

Key Design Moves

Topic 1: Key Design Moves

Six design moves have been identified to guide the project as it moves from vision to implementation. These six design moves were informed by what was heard to be most important to Calgarians in Phase 1.

Please review the design moves presented in the following section and respond to the question below. Feedback collected will help us prioritize how design moves are incorporated into the final plan.

A tree canopy can provide a wide range of benefits: beautification, shade, reductions in urban heat and stormwater runoff, and will establish a continuous, vertical element and visual identity for the street.

Phase 1 engagement highlighted the desire to see more greenery on the Avenue and showed a preference for robust, continuous tree plantings.

Note: Utility relocation studies are ongoing to understand the feasibility of achieving healthy trees in the shared street section. While adding cost to the project, relocating utilities may be required to ensure trees along the Avenue can be planted with conditions that promote their health and longevity.

Street lighting can strike a balance between ambiance and functionality, setting the stage for a safe, all-season experience. At select locations lighting can be used to highlight special moments like historic building details and special programming zones. At intersections, light fixtures can serve as identity markers.

Phase 1 engagement revealed that people have varied perceptions of safety and a desire for better lighting along the Avenue.

Artistic, grand gateways that bookend the corridor can mark the arrival points to Stephen Avenue. Minor gateway elements at intersections can help draw people to the Avenue from the surrounding area.

Phase 1 engagement showed the desire to see the Avenue as Calgary’s main connector to arts, culture & commerce.

Continuous, high-quality paving can define the street from edge to edge and create a continuous experience on Stephen Avenue between Olympic Plaza and 4th St SW. Paving will continue to 11 Street SW along the sidewalk to unify the Avenue from end to end.

A key takeaway from phase 1 engagement was a desire to transform the Avenue into a high-quality complete street with a continuous street treatment and a focus on active mobility.

Planning for programming and activation that is responsive to the location and street context while allowing for change over time is vital. Across Stephen Avenue, quality street furniture, from public benches to bike racks, can create a base experience, while other amenities that support special moments throughout can add additional opportunities for all Calgarians and visitors to spend time across seasons.

The community voiced a desire to see a future Avenue that is inclusive and diverse, with activities for all ages and abilities.

A less cluttered, simplified visual environment with a few key identifiers will make navigation and wayfinding on Stephen Avenue easier and the new visual markers to the Plus 15 easier to spot. In addition, new direct connections will enhance connections between Stephen Avenue and the Plus 15 network and vice versa.

“Connecting the Avenue” was noted a top priority for the longer-term redesign, with an emphasis on better links between the Plus 15 Network, the Avenue and other key Downtown destinations.

Draft Representative Concepts

Topic 2: Draft Representative Concept Designs

Based on feedback collected on the concept design alternatives explored in Phase 1, along with recent technical studies, draft representative concept designs have been developed for the two street types.

Street Type A: Shared Street - Macleod Trail SE to 4th St SW.

A shared street is a place where pedestrians have priority. There is also safe access for bikes and scooters moving at slow speeds while vehicular access is restricted. This is where the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall exists today, from Macleod Trail SE to 3rd Street SW, but we are proposing it is extended to include 4th Street SW.

Two concept design conditions have been created for the shared street.

  • Generally, Condition A occurs on blocks with active ground floors. This condition occurs between 2nd Street SW and 1st Street SE.
  • Condition A’ occurs on blocks with less active ground floors, where large-scale installations are maintained (such as the Galleria Trees) and at the transitions between the shared and multi-modal streets. This condition occurs between 4th Street SW and 2nd Street SW, as well as 1 ST SE and Macleod Trail SE.

Street Type B: Multi-Modal Street - 4th Street SW to 11th Street SW.

A multi-modal street allows for all modes of traffic, with dedicated sidewalk space for pedestrians, rolling lanes for active modes and a roadway designated for vehicular traffic. These distinct spaces help to ensure a safe and comfortable street that meets the mobility needs of residents and visitors alike, while improving connections to downtown and other destinations across Calgary. This street type better supports the residential character of the west end of the Avenue and occurs between 4th Street SW and 11th Street SW.

Reconfiguring the street in pursuit of an exemplary 21st century streetscape comes with a wide range of benefits, as well as trade-offs. The draft representative concept designs are made of different zones called functional layers. These layers outline how the street is split up to accommodate different functions and balance the needs of all users. These layers include:

  • Through Zones
  • Active Mobility Modes
  • Program Zones
  • Furniture Zones
  • Emergency Access
  • Private Vehicles

The through zone functions as a pedestrian thoroughfare for all, making it easier for more people to move along and across the street— from commuters to those strolling by the different shops and spaces on the Avenue. It is also a place to encounter the many invitations to stay and spend time.

This zone is a dedicated and universally accessible path for pedestrians, unobstructed by any furnishing or barriers across the entire length of the Avenue.

The dimension of the through zone varies depending on the street type and condition to ensure that pedestrian volumes are accommodated in a comfortable and safe manner.

This zone provides dedicated travel space for active mobility modes, which includes cycling, e-bikes, kick-scooters, skateboards, and other electric micro-mobility devices.

The program zones are social spaces that can support a diverse range of users and activities and invite people to spend time on the Avenue. While the zones themselves are fixed, the programming components and furnishings within them are adaptable and respond to community and commercial needs. This zone is for things like dining patios, communal seating, active play, commercial vendors and art installations.

Throughout the design of the entire Avenue, fixed furnishing elements are consolidated into a furniture zone. This zone is for everyday amenities like trees, native plantings, lights, benches, bike and scooter parking, wayfinding signage, water fountains, and waste and recycling bins. The furniture zone serves to tie different parts of the street together and to separate the movement zones from the large program zones.

Continuous zones for emergency access vehicles are provided along the entire length of the Avenue.

This condition occurs between 2nd Street SW and 1st Street SE.

Multiple program zones within the right-of-way provide opportunities for a diverse range of activities. Condition A provides a large central program zone with additional flexible program zones on both sides to support the active ground floor uses.

Clear 3.5m through zones for pedestrian movement is planned for both sides of the program zone. This doubles as the emergency access zone. An additional 2.5m of outrigger space for fire trucks is provided in the adjacent flexible program zone. Furnishings in these zones cannot be fixed and must be easily movable by 1-2 people in the event of an emergency.

Bikes and other active mobility modes would dismount within the through zone during busy peak hours.

Private vehicles are not permitted.

This condition occurs between 4th Street SW and 2nd Street SW, as well as 1 ST SE and Macleod Trail SE.

Condition A’ concentrates large program zones on both sides of the Avenue to activate the space along the buildings and to accommodate existing structures (such as Galleria Trees). A generous through zone for pedestrian movement is proposed in the centre of the Avenue to ensure people can still move safely and comfortably. The through zone doubles as the emergency access zone.

Bikes and other active mobility modes would dismount within the through zone during busy peak hours.

Private vehicles are not permitted.

This condition occurs between 4th Street SW and 11th Street SW.

Dedicated travel space for cyclists and other active mobility modes is provided through protected lanes. A widened through zone provides ample space for pedestrian movement.

Conflicts between pedestrians and active mobility users are mitigated by using the furniture zone to separate theses two zones.

The generous furniture zone on both sides of the street supports neighbourhood-scale public life. Locations for smaller program zones within the fixed furnishing zone will be identified.

Dedicated travel lanes for two-way vehicular traffic are narrowed to encourage slower speeds and create a safer street. Maintaining the existing two-way traffic configuration encourages calmer, slower street traffic.

Parking in the multi-modal street will be removed to reallocate space for expanded furniture zones and trees. Designated parking zones will be provided at cross-street intersections. Improved wayfinding to existing parking facilities (such as lots and garages) will also be explored along the multi-modal portion of the Avenue.

Emergency access is accommodated through the vehicular lanes.

Programming Ideas

Topic 3: Programming Ideas

What if Stephen Avenue was a place that invited people from all walks of life to come more often, stay longer, and enjoy the unique offering of downtown Calgary?

We want to hear what programming ideas would invite you to spend more time on the Avenue. Feedback will be used to help the City prioritize what kinds of amenities and infrastructure is needed in the streetscape design to support the programming ideas that Calgarians want most. Ensuring the right amenities are in place will help make Stephen Avenue a great public space for everyone.

Everyday Amenities

Everyday Amenities will be the baseline programming elements on the Avenue to ensure people can comfortably enjoy all parts of the Avenue at all times of year. They will be provided along all blocks and will act as the unifying elements of the street. These amenities are integrated into the furnishing zone and include things like benches, bike and scooter parking, water and recycling bins, wayfinding signage, water fountains, and water bottle fill stations.

Shared Street Programming

This sketch imagines public life in the shared street – where the streetscape acts as a landing pad for both the Avenue and its anchor cultural institutions. Programming here can act as a welcome mat for many visitors to Stephen Ave and Calgary beyond, while connecting with adjacent civic spaces like Olympic Plaza. Ideas include things such as:

  • Commercial activations - such as pop-up seasonal markets, farm stands, or craft fairs
  • Temporary art installations or activations - space for rotating and interactive art or installations to provide a continuously refreshing draw
  • Outdoor performances - flexible venues and designated busking spaces to bring live music and performances to the street
  • Celebration spots - for parties, festivals and events that bring year-round life to the block including winter months
  • Arts & culture related activations - that build upon the offerings of the cultural institutions to bring engaging, interactive educational exhibits to the street

This sketch illustrates how the adjacent active facades bring a unique and stimulating life to the shared street. Programming ideas here can embrace the current and future potential of these areas while highlighting the historic character by providing things like:

  • Patio spaces - seating space for adjacent restaurants, cafes, and bars.
  • Public patio and dining areas - free-to-sit communal tables and chairs to bring your own food or enjoy take away from a nearby restaurant.
  • Moveable style tables and chairs - flexible seating for causal gathering
  • Seating clusters - furnishings to meet up with others, socialize and spend time on the Avenue
  • Fun and games for all ages - pick-up games to play together, from kids to adults hanging out after work or before a show
  • Food and beverage trucks, carts or kiosks - for easy grab and go

Multi Modal Programming

This sketch imagines vibrant public life in the multi-modal street section. The furniture zones provide opportunities for integrating small scale programming elements that respond to adjacent uses and community needs. Programming ideas include:

  • Patio space - seating space for adjacent restaurants, cafes and bars.
  • Comfortable seating – to rest, meet up, or watch people moving by
  • Play along the way - light, linear experiences along the street that offer a chance to re-imagine the street as a playful, fun-filled landscape
  • Vendor carts - space for small vendor carts and kiosks
  • Neighbourhood block parties - street closures for special neighbourhood events
  • Community art — space for collective art that invites neighbours and passers-by to engage in participatory projects
  • Planting beds – areas for dedicated greenery and plantings that add habitat and seasonal interest
  • Community libraries – small scale, cooperatively managed amenities like lending libraries that invite neighbours and passers-by to donate and share

Additional information