Calgary Builds

Why Calgary Builds?

By J. Ian Tennant Instructor for Online Journalism, Mount Royal University

“Calgary might be a nice city one day — when they finish building it.”

That was one of the wry comments making the rounds during Calgary’s oil boom of the mid-1970s, when office towers were popping up across downtown, construction cranes were considered the “unofficial bird” of the city and fields of houses stretched the city’s boundaries.

Roughly 40 years later, Calgary may be undergoing another building boom of a different kind, this one fuelled not by an oil-hot economy and unprecedented population growth, but one by created by unprecedented spending on infrastructure projects prompted in part by a weak resource economy and the need to create jobs.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said Calgary needs infrastructure projects, big and small, that would cost a total $25 billion. City council set aside $2.5 billion this year for infrastructure, but federal and provincial funds are also being sought to complete many more projects. The biggest project on the horizon is the Green Line light rail system that will stretch from the furthest point in southeast Calgary to the city’s northern boundary. That massive effort is expected to cost in the neighbourhood of $4-5 billion.

In response to the increasing chatter about infrastructure, 12 online journalism students at Mount Royal University created this website to highlight projects already underway in the city, as well as projects that are being discussed. We arbitrarily decided to focus on projects that cost at least $1 million or more.

Using information pulled from the City of Calgary, students’ interviews of key sources and previous coverage in the media, this online journalism class has identified more than 30 projects, most of which are underway while a few are proposed. These projects are projected to cost at least $4 billion.

Infrastructure by Quadrant