The Canadian Urban (CUI) Institute has released two reports that highlight the best of local innovation in Calgary and Edmonton.
Calgary Transforms and Edmonton Activates capture how these two Canadian cities are dealing with some of our biggest urban challenges, from homelessness and affordability, to tackling racism and rebuilding their local economies.
The reports provide a snapshot of some of the local issues facing Alberta’s two largest cities and the unique solutions they’ve developed to address them.
“These reports capture the great work led by dedicated Calgarians and Edmontonians in their own voices—what’s special about their cities, the challenges they are encountering and how they’ve been able to achieve successful, inspiring outcomes,” says Mary W. Rowe, president and CEO, Canadian Urban Institute.
For example, to respond to the affordability crisis, the City of Calgary introduced Attainable Homes Calgary, a non-profit social enterprise, that works to help moderate-income Calgarians achieve homeownership. Attainable Homes helps families who earn less than $103,000 per year ($93,000 per year without children, $83,000 per year for singles) to buy their first home by providing a loan toward a down payment, with the applicant contributing $2,000. The family buying the home has to agree to make the property their “permanent sole residence” and when they sell the home, a share of the appreciation accrued is given back to the program to finance more families getting into homes.
Edmonton on the other hand, empowers their neighbourhoods and residents through their extensive network of Community Leagues—the only program of its kind in Canada. These volunteer, membership-based, non-profit organizations are formed to meet the needs and interests of residents within a defined neighbourhood. There are more than 160 Community Leagues across the city, some of which are new, and some of which have been active for 100 years. They are recognized by the City of Edmonton and function as the primary speaking body for the neighbourhood on everything from sports and recreation to planning applications and community services.
Both cities are also grappling with the challenges of reconciliation and racism but show commitment to addressing these issues through their partnerships, creating safe and inclusive places and examining internal and external systems to remove barriers.
In Edmonton, The Recover Project is creating safe spaces for people to bring their Indigenous cultures and ways of being to inform what a transformed city looks, feels and acts like. The City of Calgary has dedicated an anti-racism capacity-building fund to support collaborative initiatives that will allow organizations to identify and undo systemic racism by changing practices, policies, structures and systems.
Calgary Transforms and Edmonton Activates, can be found here online at https://canurb.org/cuixlocal/.