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Stephen Avenue Hub opens doors to downtown safety collaboration

There’s a new, first-of-a-kind facility in the city’s downtown.

The Stephen Avenue Safety Hub, located at 230 – 8 Avenue SW, is a centralized location where officers from Calgary Community Standards, Calgary Transit and the Calgary Police Service can work together to better serve the downtown community.

It’s intended to provide safety and security to the core while serving as a multi-purpose facility where officers to have a dedicated space for report writing, multi-service collaboration, storage of equipment and restroom facilities.

“Over the past few years, we have been open to the conversation of a police facility returning to the core,” said Calgary Police Service, District 1 Insp. Clare Smart.

“However, the costs have been prohibitive, and it had not been part of our strategic facility planning given other pressures.”

The space has been given to the community rent-free for one year by Slate Asset Management and the Calgary Downtown Association.

This two-year pilot project will facilitate evaluation into how The City of Calgary and the Calgary Police Service can enhance the perception of safety in the core while building stronger connections between partner agencies and community partners.

City Council has approved $2.5 million over two years for downtown safety initiatives. This includes the operation of the Stephen Avenue Safety Hub beyond the first year of operation.

The Downtown Ambassador program, a partnership between The City and the Calgary Downtown Association to provide a welcoming and safe presence downtown, is also be funded for the next two years.

The province has put together a working group to help find solutions for Calgary’s troubled downtown. FILE PHOTO

Addressing safety concerns

According to Calgary Transit chief safety officer Sam Hope, this is an area with high volumes of customer-reported concerns.

Having this space will allow transit officers to quickly respond to problems.

“This location is within a few blocks of three downtown CTrain stations,” said Hope.

“(It) allows our officers to respond to concerns quickly and help Transit customers feel safe and comfortable at these stations.”

Beyond that, it gives businesses and residents an opportunity to feel safer by increasing the number of uniformed officers in the area.

Calgary Police officer monitoring traffic at a protest in Calgary / ISAIAH LINDO FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

“Safety in Calgary’s downtown has always been a top priority for The City, whether during busy and vibrant times or through a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chief Bylaw Officer Ryan Pleckaitis with Calgary Community Standards.

The Calgary Downtown Association is encouraged by the effort to improve safety.

“We’re very proud to be a partner in this innovative collaborative effort to make downtown safety a priority,” said Jennifer Rempel, GM of the Calgary Downtown Association.