This is a question that is often asked from visitors from other large cities in Canada. Calgary has been making serious progress lately; according to the 2014 Citizen Survey Infographic Survey, 89% of Calgarians think we are on the right track, and 87% are satisfied with their quality of life. This is uplifting news because it is inherently important that citizens have confidence in their City. However, there is always an issue that needs to be addressed and today we will discuss Calgary’s nightlife.
We often overlook how important nightlife is to an urban settlement’s culture, because usually the media either seems to draw attention to the condition of the Oil sands or the upcoming federal election. We have been habituated to constantly monitor the condition of the economy and how well oil corporations are doing, meanwhile rarely engaging each other about the conditions of our urban fabric.
Calgary at night from orbit.
It is likely to have heard, at some point or another, from fellow Calgarians or visitors about how “dead” the nightlife in Calgary is. In a conversation with one of my new friends (who just arrived from Iran), they also mentioned that Calgary’s downtown core pretty much becomes a ghost town after 6 pm. But is this really the case?
Compared to other cities in Canada such as Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, yes it is quite true and building a nightlife it doesn’t just happen overnight. It comes down to the fundamental building blocks of our City: a suburban city with a downtown core occupied mainly by corporate headquarters and other service industries. In the morning, a vast number of people rush to downtown for work then rush back in the evening to the pockets of suburbs to spend time with friends, take their children to activities, or the ever popular: binge-watch Netflix.
This leaves the core vacant in the evenings; with very few residential neighborhoods currently present, there still isn’t enough density to create an active atmosphere that can sustain itself. Since there isn’t enough activity to begin with, most businesses close when office spaces cease operations for the day, including The Core, downtown’s shopping centre. To give you an idea of the density, here is Calgary’s footprint area compared to other major Canadian Cities and their populations:
Population density showing area per person
It is worth mentioning that the discrepancy can be attributed to Calgary’s municipal boundary. It consists of major green spaces such as Nose Hill Park or the Glenbow Reservoir, but the difference is huge! Why? Because we’ve grown accustomed to driving everywhere, we like our green lawns, and to the developers that proposed a 6 storey mixed-use apartment building in our neighborhood, we will appeal it because it casts a shadow over our pool. In all seriousness, one of the biggest reasons why people flock to Calgary is the reason we are known throughout Canada: during times of economic uncertainty, people are drawn to stability. Calgary has the potential to be identified as more than just cowboys and oil money. Imagine if people came from across the world to Calgary for the live music, the concerts, the bars, and the vibrant streets, both during the day and at night.
On a much lighter note, here are some niches worth exploring!
The HiFi Club
Ten X Nightclub
Commonwealth Bar & Stage
Milk Tiger Lounge
Next: Coming soon…
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makeCalgary:talk provokes conversation among Calgarians about the design of our city. Catch up with us on Twitter (@makecalgarytalk), Instagram (makecalgarytalk), or Facebook.