30 Good Things That Happened in YYC in 2016

Because now is the the perfect time of year for reflection, here are a few of the good things that happened in and around the city over the past 12 months.

The new International Terminal at the YYC Calgary International Airport officially opened on October 31.

Photograph by Karin Olafson


It's not all bad news out there. A lot of things happened in Calgary in 2016 that were pretty great. We take a look back at a few of the things that made Calgary and its surrounding area a little better this year and that made us smile a little wider. 


The Glenbow offered free admission (on select Thursdays)

You had no excuse to skip all the great exhibitions at the Glenbow this year. In January, the Glenbow launched its First Free Thursdays Nights. Museum entry was made accessible to all — from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month, admission is free. 

Speaking of the Glenbow, 2016 was a big year for them. The museum turned 50 in April and its new book, Made in Calgary: An Exploration of Art from the 1960s to 2000s was published in June. The book is based on the museum’s eight Made in Calgary exhibition series that were on display over 2013 and 2014. 


The Calgary Food Bank launched a new program to feed hungry Calgary kids

In January, the Calgary Food Bank and Calgary Board of Education started WAM. That stands for Weekends and More. It is designed to help kids who might not get enough food to eat at home. Teachers or counsellors identify kids who would benefit from the WAM program and then the Calgary Food Bank provides those kids with hampers of kid-friendly meals to take home with them over the weekend. 


The Calgary Dream Centre expanded to help women too

The Calgary Dream Centre is a rehabilitation centre that helps men and women who are suffering from addiction and homelessness. At the end of January this year, the Calgary Dream Centre opened a Women’s Recovery Home. The new Women’s Recovery Home is a safe space for women to recover, focus on their physical, psychological and financial wellness, and receive services to help them rebuild healthy lives. 


A pop-up shop gave Calgarians a taste of some really great donairs

There was a huge, winding line down Kensington Road in early March. And everyone in that line was waiting to taste a donair from Halifax’s King of Donair. King of Donair — it calls itself “Canada’s original donair” — had a one-day pop-up shop outside of Meraki Supply Co. And, of course, the donairs were a hit. 


Calgary got two libraries on wheels

Calgary had one more than 20 years ago, but this March marked the return of the Calgary Public Library’s Book Truck. The two new mobile libraries hold books (and movies and other items that the public library lends). Anyone who holds a library card can browse the items, check them out or make returns. In the warmer months, the Book Truck also offers children’s programs and an outdoor reading lounge. For details on where the Book Trucks will park next, visit calgarylibrary.ca


It was a really musical year, complete with performances by top-notch musical talent performed 

In 2015, Mayor Nenshi labelled 2016 as the Year of Music in Calgary and it certainly lived up to the name. Music Mile officially launched in January and the Juno Awards were here at the beginning of April. The awards were held at the Scotiabank Saddledome and there were performances by well-known artists like The Weeknd, Lights, Bryan Adams and Coleman Hell. And, there were a bunch of satellite concerts around the city, too. So, Calgary was all about the music this year, but even more than usual at the beginning of April. 


A new centre dedicated entirely to dance opened its doors

photograph by karin olafson

Decidedly Jazz Danceworks has a home it can be proud of. The DJD Dance Centre officially opened in April. There’s 38,000 square feet of space on the building’s lower floors, as well as 65,000 square feet of office space. The centre, which is part of The Kahanoff Centre expansion, has rehearsal studios and a studio with a 230-seat theatre that has the cityscape as its backdrop. This new centre brings dance to Calgary’s streets — as you’re driving or walking down 12 Ave. S.E., you’ll be able to see the dancing inside. 

Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ next performance is Juliet and Romeo from January 18 to 28. This will be the group’s second performance in its new space. 


Stephen Avenue got a new farmers’ market

The farmers’ market experience came to the downtown core for the first time ever this spring. It debuted on April 12 and ran every other Tuesday until September 20. It was a good summer to forget your lunch at home if you worked close to Stephen Avenue — 40 vendors sold local products at each market. 


A beautifully designed (and very sustainable) building opened on the University of Calgary campus

It’s called the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning and it had its grand opening in April. The building, which cost $40 million to build and was funded by the Taylor family’s Taylor Family Foundation, aims to enhance post-secondary learning. It’s a different kind of learning space — the furniture is moveable, there are no traditional lecture halls and there are transparent walls so research can be observed. 

And, the building is sustainable. It’s built in part from recycled materials. It has high-energy water heaters and it has a reflective roof to keep it cool in the summer. In total, it uses 71 per cent less energy than an ordinary building of the same size. 


It’s easier than ever to discover your new favourite local musician

photograph by michael grondin

Calgary local music library project coordinator Kerry Maguire (left) and collection curator Chris Dadge.

The independent radio station CJSW partnered with the Calgary Library in May. The result is an innovative new project: the city’s first local music library. The library, which looks like a five-foot-tall portable shelving unit, contains only Calgary music. You'll find it at a different public library each month. If you’re looking to really learn about the city’s musical diversity, check out one of the 300 CDs in this library. 


The Blackfoot Truckstop Diner turned 60

That’s 60 years of Edna Taylor’s famous mile-high flapper pie.


You can lounge in the East Village again

This was good news. In May, the chairs along the East Village RiverWalk came back, just in time for summertime lounging by the river with an iced Phil & Sebastian coffee from the Simmons Building in hand. 


The film and television industry is going to keep growing

The Calgary Film Centre opened its doors on May 19 of this year. It’s an impressive place that will help diversify the economy, enabling creative people to do even more creative screen projects. It’s also the city’s first purpose-built film and television production facility. The space has 50,000 square feet of sound stages, three 5,000 square-foot bays for set decoration, makeup and wardrobe, and additional warehouse space. 


Acadia is home to the new Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre

photograph by jennifer friesen 

Calgary’s new 71,000-square-foot tennis centre opened in June. And it’s a tennis lover’s dream. There are 13 state-of-the-art tennis courts, a restaurant, a lounge and a pro shop. It’s also a Team Canada national training centre, meaning the country’s best tennis players will be training and competing here. Of course, beginners are more than welcome, too. 


Stampede Park got a really big fish

A new public art piece at Stampede Park was unveiled in June. It’s a multicoloured, multi-dimensional steel trout designed by local artist Jeff de Boer. The piece adds a lot of colour — and a little something unexpected — to the area. 


Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre opened with a big party

It would make sense that there would be a big opening day party for such an important, widely anticipated building. Studio Bell first opened its doors on July 1 and it was worth the wait. The West Block is home to offices, recording studios, classrooms and the Rolling Stones Mobile Recording Studio. The East Block is the place to learn about music in Canada. Over five levels, Studio Bell has 22 exhibition stages where visitors can learn about music, see which Canadian musicians are in the Halls of Fame and admire musical artifacts. Construction was totally finished in October. 


Remember the Bowness Park mini train? It’s back.

The 1950s-era mini train that chugged through Bowness Park was damaged during the 2013 flood, but this July, mini train rides returned to the park. The damage to the train was fixed, which included the installation of a new diesel engine and a new paint job. Another new detail: it’s the University of Calgary Outdoor Centre that’s now running the mini train. 


Goats took over Confluence Park

Yes, that really happened. For three weeks in July, goats were part of a Calgary Parks pilot project. Around 100 goats were let loose in Confluence Park to eat invasive weeds. It’s called targeted grazing and it was done in an attempt to control weed growth in the area in an environmentally friendly way. There was also a professional shepherd, herding dogs and horses here to monitor the goats. 


A Calgary building with a lot of history was saved and renovated

photograph by karin olafson

The St. Louis Hotel in the East Village was open from 1914 until 2006. During that time, it had a raucous, boozy atmosphere, and the patrons loved that. It was the home of the famous indoor horse races by George Stephenson Senior. It one of Ralph Klein’s favourite bars. And, it always had greasy chicken and chips for $3.75. The building was saved and it re-opened this July, but not as a bar. Now, it’s home to the CMLC offices. 


The cycle track reached 1 million trips

It looks as though Calgarians are more than willing to get around on two wheels. This August, the city’s cycle track reached a milestone. One million trips were made on the track since it opened in June 2015. According to collected data, there has been a 40 per cent increase in bike trips since the cycle track opened.


Calgarians could drink on patios past midnight

There was some good news for patio-lovers this August. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission eliminated the “patio hours” policy. That means liquor can be served on a bar or restaurant’s patio as late as it is served inside the restaurant. 


The Alex Community Food Centre is making healthy eating more accessible

photograph courtesy of the alex community food centre

Inside The Alex Community Food Centre.

The Alex Community Food Centre is doing good work. It brings people together to combat social isolation and knowing about food and cooking can address problems like poor health and poverty. The Alex CFC is the seventh CFC to open in Canada and the first to open west of Winnipeg. It celebrated an open house in June but opened in September. Community meals, cooking classes and gardening lessons are all offered here. 


Huge new recreation facilities opened in Calgary’s southeast

The Great Plains Recreation Facility is an 80,000-square-foot facility that brings ice rinks to the city’s southeast. The facility has two multi-purpose ice rinks as well as space to seat up to 600 spectators, a pro shop, meeting areas and food and drink services. 

The Quarry Park Recreation Facility also opened this year. This is a 94,000-square-foot centre with just about all the fitness facilities you could want, including a swimming pool, multi-purpose gymnasium, running track, fitness centre, fitness studio and even a Calgary Public Library branch. 


This September marked the biggest Calgary Pride parade in Calgary’s history

Check out these numbers: There were more than 4,000 people participating in the parade this year and more than 60,000 spectators. That’s huge considering parade attendance was approximately 400 in 1991


The new International Terminal at the airport opened

(Also, the airport was renamed to be the YYC Calgary International Airport.)

The new International Terminal officially opened at the end of October. It’s the size of 34 football fields and has added 2 million square feet to the airport. The terminal is designed to be sustainable and there is a lot to do as you wait for your plane. Step inside and you might think you’re in London. And that wouldn’t be a bad guess, either, since the new terminal had a call-to-gate system that is used in a lot of airports in Europe. 


SAIT turned 100

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, originally known as PITA (the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art), has gone through a lot in 10 decades. It started during the First World War by training veterans returning home from the front line. It offered free courses during the Great Depression. There were classrooms under the old Grandstand bleachers at Stampede Park, there was a KISS concert on campus and it was a housing complex during the 1988 Winter Olympics. All this and more was celebrated in October for SAIT’s 100th anniversary party.


The mountains got more accessible

photograph by alana willerton

Anyone is able to admire the view from the top of a mountain now, regardless of their physical ability. The Banff Gondola re-opened in October and will take visitors to the top of Sulphur Mountain in eight minutes. As well as gorgeous mountain views, the newly redeveloped summit also has two eateries, a theatre, a shop, an observation deck and educational exhibits. 


Mealshare serves more than one million meals to needy kids

Mealshare is a hunger relief charity that started in Calgary. It has partnered with restaurants in Calgary as well as restaurants in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Every time someone buys a Mealshare branded item off a partner restaurant’s menu, Mealshare provides a meal to someone in need. In November, a huge milestone was reached. The organization reached the one million meal mark. That means a meal for one million kids. 


St. Mary’s University opened a new Heritage Centre

St. Mary’s University has seen its student enrollment increase by 50 per cent in the past four years, so it makes sense that it needed a new building to accommodate that growth. In November, the institution officially opened its Heritage Centre, an opening that coincided with the institution’s 20th anniversary. It’s 4,700 square feet and will be the venue for students studying in the Bachelor of Education program. It will also be the site for celebratory events. 


Affordable housing opened in Hillhurst-Sunnyside

Aurora on the Park is a new apartment building on 10th Street N.W. and its 25 units will house formerly homeless and other vulnerable Calgarians. It is close to public transit and was designed to be accessible for Calgarians with mobility issues. Aurora on the Park is part of Calgary’s plan to end homelessness. 

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