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Calgary City Soul Phase 2: Final Report

October 7, 2011

Ray Pennings

Peter Menzies

Spirited Citizenship

Research Report

Cardus is pleased to present Phase Two of its Calgary City Soul project. Undertaken in cooperation with the Arlington Group, the Calgary City Soul project was conceived following a one-day Cardus seminar in September 2008. At that time, it was noticed that the City of Calgary’s Centre City Plan—a comprehensive and visionary planning document designed to attract an additional 40,000 to 70,000 residents into the civic core—had overlooked the city-building role that institutions of faith play.

Beliefs may be private or personal matters, but the institutions that nurture them have long been and remain public and part of, not apart from, the secular society represented by governments. Faith institutions have long played a critical role in the social fabric of vital cities.

Phase Two, supported in part by a grant from the Calgary Foundation, was assigned to the Arlington Group, an established urban planning consultancy. This study’s comprehensive conclusions are available at length in the report, but in summary, indicate:

  1. Institutions of faith play a vital role in the enhancement of the civic culture, the availability of public space, and the provision of social services in a fashion that greatly benefits the wider civic community.
  2. The effectiveness and efficiency of these institution’s social services often surpasses what can be delivered by government agencies, owing in part to the very localized and socially embedded nature of the service delivery represented by faith institutions.
  3. The nature of Calgary’s faith community is changing dramatically and the current inability of the Centre City Plan to adapt to and reflect those changes is likely to lead to social exclusion, which will in turn increase pressure on both the delivery systems of government and the public money that fuels those systems.
  4. The physical infrastructure of faith institutions has been a vital part of the aesthetic landscape in the City of Calgary, and this valuable presence should not only be preserved but must also be extended in a way that is commensurate with other aspects of city growth.

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