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Old Posted Jan 11, 2014, 5:57 PM
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Calgary's Public Realm

I think I spotted a void in the Calgary section. Public realm is arguably the biggest buzz word across the private and public sectors here in Calgary lately. Lots going on in terms of development/planning for new parks, pathways, public art, open spaces, landscaping, podium street level interaction, underpass projects, new LED lighting projects etc


Here's a good start, Mentions that the 8th street and 1street underpasses/corridor public realm improvement projects are both starting in 2014:
Quote:
Centre City gets makeover

Upgraded LED lighting for the Centre Street Bridge was managed by the Centre City team (click on the photo for our 17-picture gallery).
Photograph by: Files , Calgary Herald

Ben Barrington made a mega career change in 2010.

He left his position as senior architect with BKDI Architects to be the program manager of Centre City Implementation for the City of Calgary.

Centre City describes a large swath of Calgary’s core, ranging from 14th Street S.W. on the west to the Elbow River on the east; and from the Bow River on the north to 17th Avenue on the south.

Upgrading the livability of this huge area — which includes Beltline, Chinatown, Downtown, East Village, West End and Stampede Park — is being supervised by Barrington and his team.

His mandate covers everything from creating a more bicycle-friendly downtown to adding more public art.

As part of the city’s land use planning and policy department, the role of Centre City Implementation is to “facilitate project development and delivery when needed,” says Barrington. “Our level of involvement varies greatly between projects — from very little as a stakeholder to being the managers of the project.”

The communities his team covers were founded more than a century ago, making them some of the oldest in the city. They are also the most heavily used neighbourhoods in Calgary, with about 200,000 people living, working and playing in Centre City each weekday.

It is not surprising the area’s public realm — its sidewalks, parks and plazas — is looking tired and dated. The demands of 21st-century urban living and employment are quite different than they were in the early 20th century, when much of the infrastructure was built.

For example, the need to integrate trains, buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians is different today than it was even 20 years ago, not to mention the demand for street patios, public art and pocket parks.

Cars are bigger and cycling is back — and have you seen the size of baby strollers? They’re like mini SUVs, demanding more space on downtown sidewalks.

It is no wonder Calgary’s century-plus Centre City is in need of a major makeover.

Being in charge of this is a big responsibility, but after Barrington took over in 2010, he found a further complication.

While municipal officials had approved a Centre City plan, with more than 400 action items, the budget for implementing them was fragmented among the city’s various business units and city-held development funds.

But that didn’t deter Barrington. Instead, he and his team have quietly and diligently been working at strengthening and creating relationships to make things happen — both internally, with the various city business units, and externally, with building owners, landowners and business revitalization zones.

During the past three years, Barrington analyzed the action items, looking for synergies between them and projects municipal officials or the private sector were planning in the Centre City area.

Priorities were then established based on where Calgarians are currently walking, cycling and playing, looking at ideas on how those activities could be expanded and enhanced with other programs.

In terms of the creation of pedestrian-friendly corridors, 8th and 1st streets S.W, as well as Centre Street, were determined to be the highest priorities. These roads currently have the most pedestrian traffic and potential for connectivity to key destinations.

The Centre City team also identified several different funds within existing municipal budgets and bank accounts that might be used as seed money for various projects in each of the Centre City communities.

While Barrington was not at liberty to tell me the number, he told me his goal was to leverage dollars in partnership with other city departments and the private sector, thus maximizing the return on investment for everyone.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

Today, the Centre City team has more than 25 projects at various stages of implementation, all designed to make the public realm downtown more attractive for residents, workers and tourists.

For example, it aims to create sidewalks with adequate lighting and no trees, bus shelters or poles in the middle of them, ensuring people feel safe at all times.

It means placing public benches to invite people to sit and linger, as well as installing more banners, planters and flower baskets to add colour to the streetscape.

Look, too, for more patios to animate the streets in the summer — and, yes, it also means a more bicycle-friendly downtown with dedicated bike lanes.

Public art and new pocket parks will also add a sense of pedestrian-friendliness.

The Centre City team is also working with various city business units and utility companies to create a “dig once” culture.

This will hopefully mean no more digging up streets and sidewalks for stormsewers one year, say, and for gas or electrical lines the next.

MEGA MAKEOVER IS HAPPENING

Some of the public realm makeovers are already happening — and not all are directly linked to the Centre City Implementation Team.

For example, the Victoria Crossing Business Revitalization Zone spearheaded the initiative to revamp Central Memorial Park, which received new fountains, pathways and the wonderful Boxwood Cafe, making it a more attractive place to visit and linger.

The independent, non-profit association represents more than 300 merchants and businesses.

The renovation of LRT stations along 7th Avenue was precipitated by the need to allow for longer four-car trains as part of Calgary Transit’s long-range plans to increase capacity.

The stations have been totally revamped to create contemporary, airy stations that are integrated with new wide, sloping sidewalks — no stairs to an ugly concrete platform — to allow easy accessibility for everyone.

Public art has also been integrated into many of the stations to enhance the urban experience.

The need to create an east-west route through the Beltline that was more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists led — through the city’s land use planning and policy department — to the 13th Avenue Greenway.

It aims to direct such users away from the heavy vehicle traffic along 11th and 12th Avenues, as well as connecting some of Calgary’s best historic sites, such as Central Memorial Park and the Lougheed House and gardens.

A dedicated bike lane has also been created along 7th Street S.W. to allow for easier cycling into the core from the Bow River pathway. Through the city’s transportation planning department, bike lanes have also been painted on routes such as 10th Avenue S.W. to allow for better sharing of the roadway.

Meanwhile, illumination of the Centre Street Bridge has been totally upgraded to LED lighting, not only accentuating the classic architecture of Calgary’s second-oldest bridge, but also making it more energy efficient.

This was conducted through the city’s land use planning and policy department, with the City Centre team being the managers.

The team also completed the new downtown way-finding system in 2012. It involved creating a common look, language and logic to signs that highlight key attractions in the Centre City area.

There are now 135 sidewalk way-finding signs in key locations throughout the area, making it easier for people to navigate the maze of streets, towers, underpasses and Plus-15 bridges.

Using photos from the Glenbow Museum and original artwork, an ongoing program is also in place through the city’s land use planning and policy department to transform ugly utility signal boxes into community history billboards.

Through the city’s parks and recreation department, a brand-new park is under construction along Macleod Trail between 11th and 12th avenues S.E. Enoch Park will replace an existing parking lot over the LRT tunnel.

Yes, in Calgary, we are tearing up parking lots and building urban paradises.

Hopefully, plans to move the adjacent Enoch House and convert it into a restaurant will come to fruition. The Queen Anne-style house is one of the few remaining original homes in Victoria Park.

The Carl Safran Park — which is on the west side of the historic school of the same name — is nearing completion as an initiative of the city’s parks and recreation department.

There will soon be a place for those living on the Beltline’s west side to kick a ball, throw a Frisbee or catch some rays.

UGLY UNDERPASSES GET UPGRADE

One of the biggest eyesores and barriers for better connecting the Beltline with the rest of the Centre City area are the ugly railway underpasses that pedestrians have to negotiate.

The completion of the new 4th Street S.E. railway underpass linking East Village and Stampede demonstrated what an underpass can and should look like.

The $70-million project included wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes and LED lighting in its walls and handrails, making the space brighter and more inviting.

Upgrading the 1st Street S.W. railway underpass near the Fairmont Palliser Hotel was originally slated for last year, but because of the flood, it will be a 2014 project.

The Marc Boutin Architectural Co-operative — the same group that did the Poppy Plaza war memorial along Memorial Drive — has designed an uber-cool, cocktail lounge-like pedestrian experience for the underpass.

This is part of a long-range plan to create an enhanced pedestrian corridor all the way from 17th Avenue’s Rouleauville Square at St. Mary’s Cathedral to the Bow River and Prince’s Island.

The proposed corridor has some of Calgary’s best historic buildings.

A plan for upgrading the 8th Street S.W. underpass and sidewalks is also close to being finalized, with improvements expected to start in 2014. The design has been led by Rene Daoust — who designed the public space in the Place des Arts in Montreal — with assistance from D.A. Watt Consulting Group Ltd and Marshall Tittemore Architects.

Discussions are also taking place on how to better integrate pedestrian traffic along 8th Avenue with Century Gardens — a park developed in 1975 to commemorate the city’s centennial — and a nearby new LRT station.

20-MINUTE MAKEOVER

The smallest project the Centre City Implementation Team has supported to date was to provide funding to Central United Church to install lighting in its alley as a preventive safety measure for its congregation.

Indeed, small projects are just as important as mega ones.

As for the quirkiest project, Barrington thought it would be the “20-minute makeover,” where various corporate teams volunteered 20 minutes to clean up the area around their buildings.

More than 3,800 people at 260-plus locations collected tons of garbage.

“It was amazing how many cigarette butts there are on the sidewalks,” says Barrington.

The city has a comprehensive clean and safe program for the Centre City that aims to be proactive in dealing with issues before they become a problem — and responding quickly once they are identified.

LAST WORD

Barrington says all of the improvements — both current and future — are about connecting the different activity nodes in the Centre City, with attractive pedestrian corridors.

The vision is to create a delightful, 24/7 pedestrian experience for people who work, live and visit downtown Calgary.

Richard White has written on art, architecture and urban culture for more than 20 years. He is currently the urban strategist at Ground3 Landscape Architecture. He can be reached at

richard@ground3.com. Follow him at twitter.com/everydaytourist. Visit his website at everydaytourist.ca

ART IN THE CITY

Public art has been popping up throughout the Centre City — a term created by municipal officials for much of downtown Calgary and the inner city — during the past few years.

In addition to the highly publicized works of Spanish artist Jaume Plensa (Wonderland and Alberta’s Dream) at the Bow tower, there are artworks created for East Village.

These include five mosaic panels called THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER created by Calgary artist Ron Moppett along Riverfront Lane.

They are joined by British artist Julian Opie’s Promenade LED tower, which consists of 20 panels of animated drawings near the Calgary Drop-In Centre.4
http://www.calgaryherald.com/Centre+...841/story.html
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Old Posted Jan 11, 2014, 6:02 PM
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8 Street S.W. Corridor Public Realm Plan
http://www.calgary.ca/Transportation...ealm-Plan.aspx

1st street underpass project
http://blogs.calgaryherald.com/2013/...an-of-letters/
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Old Posted Jan 11, 2014, 6:26 PM
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Isn't "Carl Safron Park" actually called Barb Scott Park?
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Old Posted Jan 11, 2014, 6:46 PM
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Isn't "Carl Safron Park" actually called Barb Scott Park?
Oh yeah, good catch. They renamed it last year.

Of course we can't forget about these East Village projects:

http://www.calgarymlc.ca/explore-projects/east-village
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Old Posted Jan 11, 2014, 6:59 PM
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I sat in on presentation or two from Rollin Stanley. Remember him talking about big land-use changes coming downtown to push for better public realm design among other things. Looks like this is a summary of part of it:


Quote:
Changes to Incentive Density System
More significant changes are being proposed for the incentive density system. The existing CM-2 bonus system has been overhauled in order to:
· align amenity options with the objectives of the Centre City Plan;
· eliminate or modify amenity options that are obsolete or redundant;
· introduce new ways to earn incentive density consistent with City objectives for Downtown;
· prioritize certain amenities, such as public realm improvements, public open spaces and residential development;
· increase the incentives for multifamily residential and hotel development in the core;
· encourage developers to use the full 20 floor area ratio available in the Downtown
District;
· provide developers with a wider menu range of optional amenity items that can be provided to obtain incentive density.
The existing CM-2 density incentive system (“bonus density”) consists of three groups of amenities that can earn incentive density:
· Group A includes amenities such as on-site pedestrian space and +15 system provisions. These must be provided to achieve up to 7 floor area ratio (FAR). Due to the typical scale of downtown buildings, it is effectively provided by all new developments, such that FAR 7 was effectively the minimum density for new projects.
· Group B amenities include public open space, public art and the +15 bridges. Providing these amenities enables developers to achieve density in the range of FAR 7 to 15.
· Group C amenities are sites receiving heritage density, off-site improvements and heritage/sunlight density transfers. Group C involves some overlap with some of the amenities in Group B. The maximum density of 20 floor area ratio can only be achieved by providing Group C items.
In essence, Group A has been maintained in the proposed system. The major changes have been introduced for developments seeking between 7 and 20 floor area ratio.
The main changes to the system can be summarized as follows:
· Revised performance requirements: the design requirements for items that have been carried over from CM-2 have been revised to better reflect expectations placed on urban environments today.
· Incentive Ratios: for the amenities that earn incentive density using the ratio of amenity area to density area (e.g. an amenity with a 1:5 ratio means that every square foot of amenity space earns 5 square feet of incentive density) the ratios have been revised to reflect current market conditions and construction costs, to ensure that the incentive is reasonable to the developer and provides good value for the City.
· Incentive Rates: for the amenities that earn incentive density based on the actual value of the incentive space (e.g. public art, in which the amount of incentive density is a function of the cost of the art and the value of the incentive density) a new set of four rates has been established to accurately reflect the current cost of construction and value of density, and to encourage developers to maximize density.
· Central Business District Improvement Fund: A mandatory contribution to a new Central Business District Improvement Fund (CBDIF) has been introduced for projects exceeding FAR 7. Residential buildings and developments containing hotels or residences are exempt from this requirement.
· Residential development: residential density is formally available without needing to provide an amenity contribution, as in incentive for mixed-use development.
· Housing diversity: Incentives have been introduced to promote the development of 3- bedroom units and universally accessible units.
· Affordable housing: An incentive has been introduced to support the development of affordable housing through financial contributions to a City fund.
· Hotel development: Incentives have been introduced to facilitate the construction of hotels.
· Community support facilities: Incentives have been introduced to promote uses that support the residential population and contribute to an active environment downtown, e.g. daycares, supermarkets.
· Green building features: Incentives have been introduced to encourage the construction of green buildings as well as the adaptive reuse of existing buildings.
· +15 System: There are still incentives for providing +15 bridges and other enhancements to the +15 system. However, these incentives are structured so that they are only available to higher density projects (above 11 FAR).

Deleted amenity items: some CM-2 items have been deleted as they were deemed obsolete or redundant.
· New amenity opportunities: Some new amenity items have been introduced, which depart from the traditional approach taken toward incentive density, in order to provide a more diverse menu of incentive items for developers and in order to achieve some City objectives regarding the overall quality of the Downtown. These are:
· Innovative Public Amenity;
· Exceptional Design;
· Indoor Public Hotel Space; and · Community Support Facilities.
An overview comparison of the existing CM-2 Bonus Density System and the proposed Incentive Density System is presented in Figure 1 below. Table 1 provides an overview of the proposed incentive density table and the individual Incentive Rates and Ratios.
http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/DBA/Docume...f?noredirect=1
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2014, 1:16 AM
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Are they ever going to go through with the Sien Lok Park reconfiguration?
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2014, 1:32 AM
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Are they ever going to go through with the Sien Lok Park reconfiguration?
I have no idea. Thought I thought I remembered Sien Lok collection donations for that.


I'm also curious to know when the 1st underpass project is supposed to start? The article says it's now a 2014 project. Does that means early this year?
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2014, 1:38 AM
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Stumbled across this. Something to think about:

Quote:
Beltline Promenade: Downtown Calgary without Freight Rail

by Tanya



I developed this concept for fun, because I see a burning need to do something more with the railway corridor that bisects Calgary. This concept considers the value of that land as a central spine to the city and considers better utilization, including mixed-use commercial, office, and residential that would take advantage of an attractive pedestrian, cyclist and outdoor amenity spine. My hope is this gets people looking critically our city spaces, and how they can serve us better. Think it’s crazy? Maybe. However, consider the benefits (below) to everyone, including CP rail, the City of Calgary, pedestrians, cyclists, and the community. Please share your thoughts for what you think the best use is; the more ideas the better!

CP rail downtown at 4th St. SW: what it could be. Pedestrians walk above instead of below the underpass; open sunny overpasses provide excellent opportunities for community gardens; dedicated cycling on the left; cafe seating on the sunny side, with people-watching, lounging, playing, picnicking, skating, etc, in the centre.

CP rail downtown at 4th St. SW today. A string of parking lots line this corridor: the only use that will tolerate this industrial environment.
Benefits to CP:

Re-routing freight rail to the city perimeter would reduce travel time, reduce conflict with people, cars and transit.
Anticipating a significant increase in adjacent land values after the rail is gone, sell land to the City for well beyond its current value.
Case model for similar CP applications in other Canadian cities.
Be a good neighbor.

Benefits to City:

Ownership of significant public amenity makes adjacent land attractive for development rather than parking lots.
Offset acquisition costs with greater tax revenue.
Other parts of rail line outside of the core have potential as transit corridors.
Improve downtown access for peds/cyclists (cars only in underpasses).
One of the last large scale infrastructure opportunities to putCalgaryon the map.

Benefits to community:

Everything needed to live/work right outside the door, no commute.
Buildings designed to provide sunny public space & units.
Retail, grocery, community gardens, parks, and playgrounds increases interactions between those who live/work/shop in the core, strengthens community.
Integrated social housing opportunities

Benefits to pedestrians/cyclists:

Safe cyclist east/west commuter corridor
Quicker commuter time, less car conflict, more scenic
Easy access to shopping/retail on the way
People watching
Mixed-use means presence of people 24/7, increased sense of safety.
http://peopleplaces.me/blog/
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2014, 2:25 AM
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Stanley Park redevelopment should be included in this thread.

http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Parks/Pag...velopment.aspx
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Old Posted Jan 15, 2014, 7:00 PM
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Wow, this Cocktail Lounge - like experience to be included in the redevelopment of the First Street underpass sounds awesome!

http://www.calgaryherald.com/Centre+...841/story.html


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Originally Posted by Spring2008 View Post
I'm also curious to know when the 1st underpass project is supposed to start? The article says it's now a 2014 project. Does that means early this year?
That's what I got out of the article. First Street and Eighth Street underpasses.
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Old Posted Jan 15, 2014, 7:38 PM
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Calgary - the only city in the world where even the underpasses are designed for an enhancing cocktail experience, we're rich bitch!
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2014, 7:18 PM
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Public realm strategy for out civic district:
http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/LUPP/Pages...-Strategy.aspx

Survey included-nows ur chance to suggest creating a walkway through city hall to connect The Riff and Stephen Ave!
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2014, 6:11 PM
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Public realm strategy for out civic district:
http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/LUPP/Pages...-Strategy.aspx

Survey included-nows ur chance to suggest creating a walkway through city hall to connect The Riff and Stephen Ave!
I'm probably going to go to the public information session today at City Hall for it. I'll see what I can find out.

I'm having a hard time thinking of what to write on the survey though
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2014, 8:07 PM
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^i stopped at the in-person survey area yest on the +15 between the core and bankers. Few of my suggestions:

-Open a pedestrian lane through City Hall to connect The Riff with Stephen
-Creative and consistent landscaping, public art, signage to clearly identify the area as the civic district
-More mixed use development including hotel, residential, retail to make the area more of a draw day and night

Was happy to hear the city is already looking at all of these options. Next step after the survey is consult with private industry reps and then a draft plan will be presented to the public.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2014, 8:09 PM
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That's great to hear, Spring! Good ideas too. I also think the city should be responsible for watering public trees along streets at least twice a month during the summer. Our trees here are so frail and shitty.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2014, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Chadillaccc View Post
That's great to hear, Spring! Good ideas too. I also think the city should be responsible for watering public trees along streets at least twice a month during the summer. Our trees here are so frail and shitty.
or contract it out to kw5150. he cares about trees seemingly more than most
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2014, 12:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadillaccc View Post
Wow, this Cocktail Lounge - like experience to be included in the redevelopment of the First Street underpass sounds awesome!

http://www.calgaryherald.com/Centre+...841/story.html
I am familiar with the First Street underpass, and I assure you there is already a small existing clientele who seem to think it has a cocktail lounge experience.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2014, 1:50 AM
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That's great to hear, Spring! Good ideas too. I also think the city should be responsible for watering public trees along streets at least twice a month during the summer. Our trees here are so frail and shitty.
Thanks!

I'm impressed with the landscaping around most of the new developments, parks, and close to the river, but still confused about some of the landscaping around areas like 17th ave. No more planting tiny trees please!

As far as watering, we've been getting a decent amount of precipitation here the last few years. The main focus should be watering during our drought streaks that seem to mostly happen during the fall.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2014, 2:15 AM
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In most cases these days it's probably easier and cheaper to set up automatic sprinklers than pay for the labour.
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Old Posted Mar 4, 2014, 1:01 AM
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Work starting on 1street and 8th street underpasses later this year:

http://www.calgaryherald.com/touch/s...tml?id=9569969
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