The City of Calgary’s first integrated facility project, the Varsity Multi-Service Redevelopment weaves together residential units for the Calgary Housing Corporation, child-care facilities, City of Calgary community spaces, a fire station, and a household hazardous waste disposal site.
The design of the new multi-service facility supports several mixed-use programs and connects to the community with public outdoor amenities such as green space, a public plaza and seating.
The architecture emphasizes these unique spaces and places through a dynamic form that houses the fire station, along with other potential public uses like child care through a shared lobby entrance.
Set on top of the building, the four storey multi-family residential units will feature a consistent material on the exterior and will highlight each family home with a private balcony.
Reflecting 37th Street N.W.’s park-like quality, the green space and public plaza is a large public amenity that includes community gardens, green grass areas, integrated benching and large canopy trees. The parkette allows for leisurely activities, gardening, seating and play spaces for the community and the building’s residents.
The design process has taken us through several iterations as we utilized feedback in the development of this multi-service facility to meet functional service needs. Please click here to view the the most current design.
We are proud to note the Varsity Multi-Service Redevelopment is a proud recipient of a mention in the Housing Innovation category for the Mayor’s Urban Design Awards 2022. Read more about this award here.
Varsity Fire Station
The City is redeveloping the Fire Station in the community of Varsity
The Varsity Fire Station has reached the end of its life cycle after serving the community for over 50 years. Once a fire station has reached the end of its life cycle, it needs to be replaced due to its age and growing maintenance costs. The new station will accommodate Fire and EMS staff and provide space needed for other services.
In alignment with the Calgary Fire Department’s commitment to continuous improvement, and to ensure the safety, health and occupancy of its members, the Varsity Station design incorporates features and systems that reduce exposure to cancer-causing contaminants. Examples of this are spaces that protect firefighter personal protective gear from ultraviolet light exposure and systems that eliminate exhaust in the vehicle bays.
The new fire station not only complies with provincial and federal codes and regulations, but it adheres to The City’s Sustainable Building Policy, demonstrating the Fire Departments dedication to public safety, and investment in high performing and smart infrastructure.
The proposed multi-use facility
includes a 48-unit affordable housing development
Affordable housing supports people of all ages, family compositions and demographics – individuals and families who otherwise could not afford safe and stable homes. Affordable housing is an important part of building complete communities and is foundational to community prosperity.The Varsity site is close to amenities such as transit and grocery stores, which is key criteria in selecting where to build affordable housing.
The City of Calgary strives to create affordable housing in all areas of the city and recognizes affordable housing as an integral part of complete communities. With one in five Calgary households struggling to pay for housing costs, this development is part of The City’s direction to ensure that low to moderate income Calgarians have access to a safe and stable place to call home in all neighbourhoods across the city.
To learn more about Affordable Housing click here.
Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Drop-off
The development will also include a Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off where residents and citizens can dispose of items that are corrosive, flammable, poisonous or explosive that are considered household hazardous waste. To learn more about the Household Hazardous Waste program, visit Household hazardous materials accepted and List of fire stations with household hazardous materials drop-off (click on link and scroll down to the map)
*During construction, the existing HHW drop-off will
not be accessible. The HHW is temporarily moved to Bowness Fire Station located
at 6328 35 Avenue N.W. It will be there for the duration of construction.
Corporate Accommodation and Retail Space
The facility’s corporate accommodation space will house flexible workstations and a meeting space. A commercial retail unit will also be included that may be used as a potential child-care space.
Sustainable Design Considerations
The Varsity Multi-Service Redevelopment is pursuing Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) and WELL certifications to reduce carbon emissions, minimize environmental impacts, and enhance human health and well-being of building occupants and users.
The project features the following climate change adaptation measures:
- A durable building envelope to protect against intense summer storms and high winds
- Cooling systems design to safeguard the health and wellness of occupants during heat waves
- Backup emergency generation capabilities to support continued operation during electrical grid outages
The project is taking the following steps to mitigate climate change:
- Highly insulated building envelope to cut down on heating and improve comfort for residents
- The implementation of a 260-kW rooftop solar system to generate clean, renewable energy onsite
- Roughly a 50% reduction in GHG emissions compared to conventional construction
Having reached the end of its life cycle after servicing the community for over 50 years the Varsity Fire Station needs to be replaced. The redevelopment of the fire station provides the opportunity to better optimize the space as a multi-service facility.
Situated on the corner of 32nd avenue and 37th street NW, the project site is bordered by the residential community of Varsity to the west, the University of Calgary to the south, and the University Research Park to the north and east.
Conceived as three separate programs unified through shared amenity spaces, the facility aims to redefine and examine how seemingly unrelated users can gather as a community to support and benefit vulnerable populations.
This facility is designed to minimize site, construction, and servicing costs while leveraging programmatic and urban principles towards making housing more affordable and more integrated, thereby ensuring more and better accessibility for a greater number of citizens in need.
Key project considerations
The safety of Calgarians and continuity of emergency response were considered critical when choosing the site design and building layout. The following parameters and objectives also played a major role in influencing the design decision.
Ongoing construction phases with projected Grand Opening in 2025.
In June 2022, we celebrated the start of construction with speeches from Mayor Jyoti Gondek; Calgary Fire Department Chief, Steve Dongworth; General Manager of Community Services, Katie Black; Director of Calgary Housing and President of Calgary Housing Company Sarah Woodgate; Acting Manager of Facility Planning, Ryan Meier. It was great to get together to celebrate the start of construction on this innovative, integrated facility.
We would like to thank everyone who was able to join us for the presentation and Q&A session on Wednesday May 26th. This presentation provides an update on the Varsity Multi Service Redevelopment project including the revised design and site layout will be shared including how citizen and Council feedback was considered and provide information on next steps. If you were not able to join us the recording of that session is posted below for you to watch. We have also provided the presentation slides (in the links section) for you to view but you will not be able to see answers to questions we received (those are in the video).
The development permit application and land use redesignation were presented to Calgary Planning Commission (CPC) on September 3, 2020 followed by the Public Hearing of Council on October 5, 2020.
Following the application meetings the project team developed multiple alternative site layout options to acknowledge the recommendations from Calgary Planning Commission. A feasibility assessment is being completed to explore the opportunities and impacts associated to the revised site options. All comments heard are being taken into consideration along with the program and operational requirements of the business units.
The project team will be submitting a deferral request to Calgary Planning Commission early March, after which the project schedule will be updated.
The development permit application and a land use redesignation have been submitted to the Planning and Development department. The land redesignation process typically takes anywhere from four to seven months, but may take longer if there are policy or technical issues that need to be resolved. The status of Development Permit (DP2019-6254) and Land Use Redesignation (LOC2019-0189) can be viewed on The City’s development map online.