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Varsity fire, housing multi-use project breaks ground in northwest Calgary

Several city services will come under one roof with a new Calgary multi-use facility in Varsity.

Ground was officially broken on the 83,000-square-foot project, scheduled for opening in the winter of 2023.

According to the City, the space will house the new Fire Station 17, a 48-unit Calgary Housing development, household hazardous waste drop-off, city corporate accommodation space and leasable space.

The project is a collaboration between the City of Calgary, the Calgary Fire Department and the Calgary Housing Company.

The overall project budget is $33.5 million.

The City of Calgary’s Community Services GM, Katie Black, said this is a significant milestone for everyone involved in the project.

“The Varsity multiservice redevelopment is the first mixed-use facility to be built under the city’s integrated civic facilities,” said Black.

“This facility truly reflects what we can do when we work together.”

Mayor Gondek thanked the various business units, architects, designers and planners that came together to get this project planned. She said it is “the culmination” of a lot of people’s hard work.

“We finally are demonstrating how much better we are when we work together,” said Mayor Gondek. 

“We’re going to have a facility that not only houses the Calgary Fire Department, but we also have an opportunity for childcare, we will be offering 48 homes to people who really need this opportunity.”

Lifecycle replacement for Calgary Fire Department

Deputy Chief Mark Turik of the Calgary Fire Department said they’re excited to be part of this project.

The new fire station will directly respond to the communities of Varsity, the University District and Brentwood. In addition, it will also support fire response and communities as far away as Hawkwood, Killarney and the downtown core.

According to Turik, the current fire station has served the community for more than 50 years, but it’s coming to the end-of-life cycle. It will have upgraded features, including a refill system for breathing apparatus cylinders and five bays to accommodate for growth.

“Being a part of this new multi-service facility allows for better optimization of the land, space and building systems required for today’s fire stations,” said Turik.

Sarah Woodgate, Director of Calgary Housing, City of Calgary, and President of the Calgary Housing Company said this new project is like a dream come true. It will help to house 115 Calgarians.

“This will provide new housing options for residents and Varsity as well as new opportunities for people to join this community,” said Woodgate.

Calgary housing company manages homes under a mixed-income rental model that does not require government operating subsidy.

It’s Calgary’s largest landlord and in partnership with the City of Calgary and the province, the Calgary Housing Company provides homes to 25,000 Calgarians and 10,000 children every day.

“Something really exciting about this development is Calgary Housing Company is also piloting multi-generational options,” Woodgate said.

We’re going to have the opportunity for units to be combined to allow multi-generational living for Calgarians.”

Design of the Project

The project design is environmentally-friendly, according to the manager and facility planner Ryan Meier.

The Varsity Multi-Service Redevelopment is pursuing Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) and WELL certifications to reduce carbon emissions, minimize environmental impacts, and enhance human health and well-being of building occupants and users.

The project features climate change adaptation measures such as a durable building envelope to protect against intense summer storms and high winds. It will have a cooling system designed to safeguard the health and wellness of occupants during heat waves and backup emergency power generation in case of electrical grid outages.

The project will also take steps to mitigate climate change through a highly insulated building envelope to cut down on heating and improve comfort for residents. They’ll also have a 260kW rooftop solar system to generate power.

It will also reduce GHG emissions by 50 per cent and target energy performance that exceeds National Energy Code for Buildings by 40 per cent.

According to Mayor Gondek, this is what Calgary is all about.

“You can’t be the number three city for livability in the world if you’re not doing projects like this,” she said.