Historic Fire Hall No. 1 gets movies and markets all summer long

Pop-up event featuring hot chocolate, music, and vintage vendors at the Historic Firehall No. 1 on Saturday, March 26, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Historic Fire Hall No. 1 is getting activated in a big way for the summer.

From movies to markets, and even motorcycles, the civic space in the heart of downtown is going to be playing host to many events leading right into September.

“There’s quite a few things happening this summer. We’re trying to pack it all in while the weather’s still good,” said Alice Lam, coordinator for events at the fire hall.

Starting July 14, movies will be shown outdoors, twice a month in the evenings. The first is a Stampede friendly showing of Wild Wild West, which stars Will Smith, Salma Hayek, and Kevin Kline.

Tickets to the films are $5, with the proceeds going towards supporting Calgary Community Fridge.

On July 20, the fire hall will be hosting a motorcycle show and shine from Moto Social, in partnership with local custom motorcycle shop Ill-fated Kustoms. Entry to that event is free.

“So anybody who’s interested in seeing some motorcycles, some classic motorcycles up close, they can come and check it out,” said Lam.

The fire hall will also be hosting a number of night markets throughout the remainder of the summer. Upcoming next is the aptly-named Cuties Market, which is designed around giving opportunities to youth entrepreneurs who create items that are cute and adorable.

Cuties Market starts at 2 p.m. on July 23. Additional night markets are being held on Aug. 6 and 20, and Sept. 3 and 17.

“It’s going to be a great day, we’re going to have art demos, people can learn how to make arts and crafts, and then also have the chance to support some of our up and coming youth entrepreneurs which is really exciting,” she said.

A full listing of currently planned events is available on the Historic Firehall Calgary Instagram feed.

Creating community in the downtown core

Lam said that they’re encouraging everyone to get involved, including the office workers and even Stampede tourists, but that the primary focus is on creating a diversity of events that meet the needs of downtown residents.

“It would be great obviously if the office workers came out as well, because during the lunchtime you don’t want to just sit at your desk all day,” she said.

“But our focus really downtown is the large residential community. It’s one of the few neighbourhoods in the city that doesn’t actually have a hub, and so that’s what we’re trying to create for downtown residents here.”

Among the residential groups that Lam said organizers are trying to reach are the low-income seniors who live directly across from the fire hall at Carter Place.

Giving the seniors an opportunity to engage outside of their apartments with the wider community was important to the types of events selected, said Lam.

“That’s why most of our events are free, trying to do things like arts and crafts and things that would interest them as a thing to come by and see,” she said.

“Even when we have our night markets, they may or may not be purchasing from the vendors directly. Some of them are much younger, or it’s like kind of different subcultures—but they love being able to get out of their apartments and come and look at something.”

Better mental health, and physical health

Lam said that seniors, although they have a roof over their heads, are often limited by their economic circumstances.

“Something that people often forget is just because they have a roof over their heads, does not mean that they have enough money to travel around the city, participate in festivals, pick up a hobby,” she said,

“Those things are all additional things that honestly the low income seniors that make $1,000 a month, and have to pay for medication, food, housing, transportation, don’t have enough to cover.”

She likened the opportunity to gather with the wider community as being like preventative health.

Among the other events that Lam has organized in conjunction with community partner Fresh Routes is a low-cost produce market every Tuesday, offering prices that are 20 to 40 per cent less than retail.

“We do exist in kind of a food desert. There is a grocery store nearby, but for a lot of the elderly, low-income seniors that live in the neighbourhood, and the immigrant families that live in the neighbourhood, it’s a bit far to go to if they don’t have a car.”

Lam said that the efforts to reach seniors in the community equally apply to immigrant families making their homes in the core and are also on limited budgets.

“If you have three children, your monthly costs are quite high, and it really impacts the amount of things you can do for recreation, or for fun,” she said.

“So I think we have the opportunity now to provide a platform, and an opportunity for non-profits under-visible business owners—entrepreneurs of all ages and all different ethnic backgrounds—giving them that platform to meet and engage with the greater Calgary community so that they can start to see that they have a place in Calgary.”

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