It all began as an innocuous mid-summer stroll down 9 Ave. SW and may wind up as an overall project that changes the face of Calgary’s downtown.
Wearing “fancy little shoes,” Ald. Druh Farrell came to a halt, nowhere to go but backwards because construction on both sides had the sidewalks cordoned off.
“Most of the space they were using was for parking construction vehicles,” said Farrell.
With no option but a back laneway, Farrell proceeded past “disgusting” dumpsters, vagrant newspapers bustling about her feet; it was a strange place for an epiphany, Farrell admitted.
“Every trip downtown starts and ends as a pedestrian and you sure notice a lot of things,” said Farrell. “Basically, we, as a city, need to do more downtown for pedestrians.”
With the city’s print media outlets ordered to clean up boxes and Farrell’s motion to rid downtown laneways of dumpsters passed, she hopes to complete her core beautification trifecta at tomorrow’s Land Use, Planning and Transportation committee meeting, where construction hoarding will come under the microscope.
The plan, Farrell said, is to boost fees for sidewalk closures by 130 per cent, while hiking fines to better reflect the value of public space encroached upon by hoarding, which stakes off space with plywood and scaffolding.
As an incentive, the city plan would dock 25 per cent off fees if a construction outfit uses decorative screening — art of the future building or work from local artists.
“The work has to be done, but we want to encourage it to be done with some components of public art in mind,” she said.