Urban Nixddevelopment

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by Serge Wlodarski

Urban Nixddevelopment

A Mistaken Idea of What the City Core Should Be



Photo byKevin Bessat onUnsplash Musee del Confluences, Lyon, France


We should have learned from established countries improved ways to develop the downtown core of a city. In Calgary, Canada, which is over a million population, we have made the same mistakes as many other countries in the world. 


As skyscrapers reach the clouds and are more densely built, people become insignificant; the community becomes non-existent. If you’re walking down the street on a fall day, you are blown away, and feel chilled completely by the dark, dismal shadows of the environment surrounding you. 


Historical businesses such as Hudson Bay Co. are now closing down, Eatons and Woodwards have long-since gone. All the special elements that I loved about downtown have moved on.


There were small shops that sold only jeans and cowboy hats, proof of Calgary’s ranching heritage, the Woolworth’s store where kids could shop for small gifts at Christmas, or their first lipstick.


The Bay basement where teens could get the best hot dog and malt, from part of their allowance before going to the downtown theatre. The news shop where you could get newspapers from all over the world. 


Small art galleries, with the library,  where students studied real artists’ work and new abstract trends. 


Even the small law offices that offered free law services for low-income people. These are only some of the businesses that I miss. Anything left caters to the very rich or foolish shoppers. 


The streets are becoming empty as the rents go “through the roof”, and small businesses like tobacco and newspaper shops can’t make a living, they are forced to move.


The picture below is a downtown development, I would rather see.  It has lower buildings, more widely spaced, and lots of green space and sunlight. 


Plants won’t grow because of the shadows and cold streets created by so many high-rise buildings spaced so closely together.  Instead, conservatories have to be built stories up in atriums with controlled sunlight and humidity. 


Plus-15’s, constructed walkways above ground, had to be built to keep business people out of the cold streets, and no-one needs to go out to support businesses on the street anymore. You can go from building to building in a controlled environment. Try delivering anything downtown, it is entirely underground and a challenge for any driver. 



Photo byChris Henry onUnsplash


It has become a stark, angular oasis, with very expensive shops and an explosion of cement. It is an unearthly firmament where no one wants to enter. Where fog and pollution hangover very close, narrow streets. Buses and trains struggle to reach their destination on time while people jay-walk and run against the lights trying to avoid stopping in this uninviting environment. 


How could we have been so short-sighted as to develop this starving conglomeration of misshaped and unharmonious towers which have served the oil and gas companies for years, but that is no longer their vision of the future?


Now, because of high rents, the oil companies that are left, after the industry’s demise, are moving out to industrial areas where no trains and not enough buses frequent. The workers have to move out to suburbia and buy a vehicle again to get to work.


The small businesses and box stores are in suburbia, and most don’t need to frequent the city core anymore. The train stations become hangouts for thugs, addicts, and the disenfranchised. Policing is needed more in these areas because it becomes a centre for drug deals, and for charities, food kitchens who rent old buildings left to decay, and move when they can’t get low rent, to another dilapidated building. 


Why haven’t we seen these patterns in other past prime older cities in the United States?  Portland and Detroit come to mind. There are many vacant buildings, too old to economically refurbish, and only large property developers can create multi-storey developments by demolishing and building new ones. This puts out the population of renters who can least afford to move.


In the meantime, older areas are left to decay until homeless people swat in them and seedy business becomes commonplace. Finally, with the desire or the development finances to rebuild, these areas are made new.


We should have planned much better for city downtown areas with high-rise buildings less packed into an area, more parks. There should have been more refurbishing of old “quality” historic buildings, more arts. We should have encouraged small businesses to stay, with lease incentives, because, without people downtown, crime becomes frequent. Favourable hotels with quality dining, at reasonable prices.

Without a vibrant downtown, new businesses, and new forms of trade, and technology will not frequent the area. We will have lost the business and tourism industries to the city centre. 


More thoughtful long-term planning is necessary to see this happen. I hope it is not too late for Calgary to see a turn-around. Visionary plans are necessary to see a vital and well-populated city core happen. 


……………………………………………………………………………………………....Shirley Langton 2020


Submitted: November 09, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Shirley M. Langton. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Serge Wlodarski

Even small towns in America have downtown problems. Where I live the big stores are two miles from downtown where there's enough space for parking lots. Not much downtown that's not available closer to home.

Tue, November 10th, 2020 2:25pm


Yes, Urban Planning has been very short-sighted. Thank you for your comments. Shirley

Tue, November 10th, 2020 7:28am

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