Beltline Urban Forum (BUF)

Beltline Urban Forum is an event initiated and run by Beltline Planning Group. Beltline Urban Forum is where experts from around the world are invited to the Beltline to lead a discussion with community residents on matters that are of importance to the community. Beltline Urban Forum focuses the discussion about what community residents think about an issue, not what the City, architects or developers think. Beltline Urban Forum shows that community members are leading the way in new thinking about urban issues and empowers citizens to make a difference in their community.

Beltline Urban Forum is intended to engage residents in meaningful public discourse on topics that are important to them and which will shape the future of their community. It is also intended to inspire them to action and attract motivated volunteers to channel their efforts through the community association, creating momentum to move the issue forward. Beltline Urban Forum is supported by the Calgary Foundation.


The first Beltline Urban Forum, which took place on May 16th, 2007, focused on the issue of a policy of the City of Calgary to require red brick at the bottom of every local building in the area. The first Beltline Urban Forum set out to engage Beltline residents and the greater community in a public discussion on a current and practical architecture issue for the community.

Panelists included Bruce Kuwabara, award-winning architect and partner at KPMP Architects in Toronto; Eben Smith, Vice President of Smith & Smith Associates in Chicago and Robert Lemon, of Robert Lemon Architect Inc. and past Chair of The Vancouver Heritage Foundation.

The event was marketed through well-designed advertising in the public media, direct mail to members an email campaign and orchestrated word of mouth. The event brought together community residents, architects, heritage activists, city planning and heritage staff and even some senior management from the City. Jim Brown of CBC radio’s "The Eye Opener" moderated the event. More than 150 people attended. The event was video taped and recorded for television. The forum received significant media attention in the form of a major feature in the Calgary Herald, a detailed item on CFCN television, an article in CREN and a magazine feature on the Beltline in Avenue magazine.

Star panelist Bruce Kuwabara praised Beltline Communities for its passion and interest and was deeply impressed by the community driven nature of the event.

The event attracted many new residents to join the community association as well as Beltline Planning Group. Many of the attendees left the event asking "when’s the next one?" The general consensus generated through the forum was that although “brick at the bottom” provides a competent solution, other alternatives are often better.

Read about Beltline Urban Forum in Canadian Architect magazine.

Walking tours to explore the Beltline with our expert guests.


Click here to read more about the Beltline Urban Forum in the news.


The second Beltline Urban Forum took place on September 20th, 2007. The topic was how to better use Beltline’s Laneways. Bureaucratic impediments and inexperience have lead Calgary to overlook the potential of our downtown back alleys. Other cities throughout the world use their laneways as secondary streets. They include residences and small businesses that open onto the lane. Lanes also create opportunities to add landscaping to improve the view from neighbouring buildings. The second Beltline Urban Forum will ask experts and the community "Are back lanes only for garbage trucks?"

The forum was moderated by Natasha Rapchuk, news director for QR77 and the panelists for the forum were: Sebastian Deckker, author of London laneway housing book "Mews Style," Christopher Hume, architecture critic for the Toronto Star, Terence Van Elslander, Toronto architect and author on the potential of lanes, Jocelyn Duff, Montreal affordable laneway housing architect and Kevin Walsh, urban explorer and founder of "Forgotten New York."

Read Christopher Hume's take on Beltline and BUF II here.