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Calgary will make major changes to its meetings infrastructure over the next five years.
It’s no secret that Calgary has more to offer than the cattle drives and rodeos the destination is famous for. In fact, it’s quickly becoming the second-biggest convention city in Canada. And following major developments to its meetings infrastructure in the next five years — including a multimillion dollar expansion of the BMO Centre at Stampede Park — the city will give groups additional reasons to visit.
The BMO Centre is undergoing a $500-million-plus expansion, including the addition of 500,000 square feet of space, bringing the total amount of convention space to nearly 1 million square feet. Once renovations are complete, the venue will be the second-largest facility of its kind in the country, after the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). A short drive from the BMO Centre, the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre (CTCC) offers 122,000 square feet of convention space, two great-rooms of 47,000 square feet and 20,000 square feet each, five prefunction areas, and 36 meeting rooms. Plus, it’s centrally located on Stephen Avenue, Calgary’s famous pedestrian mall, which will undergo major upgrades beginning in 2020. Meeting attendees there also have easy access to the city’s compact, walkable convention center campus. (Check out the Attendees’ Walking Guide to the city.)
In addition to the BMO Centre expansion, the surrounding area is getting a makeover. As part of the Rivers District Master Plan, Calgary’s east Victoria Park neighborhood will transform into the destination’s culture and entertainment district, a new mixed-use community including 8,000 residential units and 4-million-square-feet of mixed-use development space. The plan was designed to include the BMO Centre expansion, a brand new event center, and the addition of Stampede Trail, a pedestrian and vehicle pathway featuring new retail and commercial development. As the project progresses, Calgary plans to work with the community on a variety of new and diverse entertainment and cultural amenities.
Among the city’s developments, Stephen Avenue, which has existed in its current form since the 1980s, will be completely reimagined. Using input from the city, Denmark-based design firm Gehl Studio, the Calgary Downtown Association, and architecture firm Stantec will develop a new take on the downtown destination. Following the $500,000 redesign — which will cover the entire length of 8th Avenue, from 11th Street S.W. to Olympic Plaza — officials hope more visitors will want to hang out on Stephen Avenue beyond the busy 9-to-5 hours. “I think we’ve been complacent about Stephen Avenue for a number of years,” Marco De Iaco, executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, told the Calgary Herald. “We want to talk about the future of downtown. We want to talk about establishing a new energy, a new personality, a new identity for Stephen Avenue.”