Good news for those who appreciate inner-city living. New statistics point to a kinder, safer Beltline.
Crime in the Beltline has dropped significantly in the past five years according to Calgary city councilor Evan Woolley. He represents a number of inner-city neighbourhoods and has been keeping his eyes on trends in the area. Beltline is a colloquial name for the area south of the railway tracks to 17 Ave SW, between 14 St SW on the west and the Elbow River on the east side. It is also one of the city’s most densely populated areas with a large number of condominiums and rental apartments. The Beltline is also where the city comes to enjoy the hottest bars and night clubs, trendy restaurants and urban culture.
With the increasing number of high-rise condo buildings in the area, the population of Beltline has grown in the past three years by 11.5%. There are now 22,000 who call this area of Calgary home. Given the popularity of Calgary bike lanes and the large number of people in Beltline who enjoy walking from home to work and back, the announcement that the neighbourhood is coming safer comes as welcome relief.
How Safe do you Feel?
As further evidence of Calgarian's attitudes towards safety in an inner-city setting, Woolley made reference to a 2014 survey when he was interviewed recently by the Calgary Herald. The survey was commissioned by the City of Calgary, polling citizens about how safe they feel on city streets. Statistics show 84% of respondents indicated they felt very safe or reasonably safe in their neighbourhoods, including those declaring residency in the Beltline area. Staff Sgt. Kyle Grant of the Calgary District Police Service told Metro News earlier this year that the Beltline is not without its issues. However, assaults which occur in the area are associated with those involved in drug dealings or between individuals who were out drinking. The average person is not at risk, in his opinion.
Big Plans for Beltline
This area of inner city Calgary, comprised of Connaught and Victoria Park, remains a transitional neighbourhood undergoing positive redevelopment in compliance with the City of Calgary’s urban density strategy. This ambition plan for urban redevelopment calls for the rejuvenation of older areas, including better lighting, an active streetscape and higher density housing. The plan as current construed would see the population of the Beltline area increase to 40,000 in the next 20 years.
Many Business Revitalization Zones (BRZs) have been established, particularly along 4 St SW and 17 Ave SW, encouraging new retail stores, restaurants and service providers to set up shop in the area. Condominium developers have been attracted to the area, constructing the Sasso, Vetro, Colours and the exciting Arriva project, twin high-rise towers 42 and 34-storeys tall.
Woolley, councilor for Ward 8 where the Beltline is located, has been involved with inner-city issues and urban development since he was a teenager. He is working on behalf of Ward 8 residents to ensure more tax dollars are invested by the City into the area and to see that inner-city neighbourhoods remain connected and easy to navigate by car, bike, and transit or on foot. Woolley’s website indicates that he is working to eliminate red tape for developers who want to build in the Beltline.