For the most part, Calgary is definitely a suburban city, though comparing it to Vancouver makes about as much sense as comparing it to New York. Calgary is on the edge of the prairies with no geographical or municipal boundaries (save for the Tsu Tiina nation). With nothing to stop the outward expansion, it's pretty obvious why it exists in its current form. With all that in mind, the density downtown is quite remarkable, and is probably ahead of where the GVR was at 1.25 million people. As commutes become longer and property taxes increase (due to the ever increasing demand for new infrastructure as well as maintaining eisting stock), the number of people living downtown will only increase. The city will probably sprawl until there is no growth driving it, but the inner city will become denser and denser as well.
Vancouver is in a valley with water and mountains bordering it, as well as many municipalities bordering it, there is no room left to expand the city, and thus it has begun building vertically. How is this even a fair comparison? Where was the city when the West End started? I imagine there was little to no room left then as well. Don't get me wrong, I love Vancouver, but would not be willing to take a pay cut to pay more to live there, no matter how little snow it gets or how green it is.