Sustainable Calgary

321, 223 12 Ave. S.W. Calgary, Alberta T2R 0G9

Phone (403) 270-0777


Web site:

From Grass Roots to Grass RootsAbout Us
Sustainable Calgary (SC) started in 1996 as a grassroots group of Calgarians who came together to discuss ways to improve the sustainability of our city. They were motivated in part by a dissatisfaction with the narrow set of economic indicators that drove public policy-making - economic growth rate, stock market indexes, inflation rates, currency valuations and so on. They decided that a first step in creating a more sustainable Calgary was to redefine how we measured progress. Inspired by the work of Sustainable Seattle Sustainable Calgary Society embarked on a project to identify, research and report on a set of community sustainability indicators. They entered into a process to identify community indicators and they asked Calgarians to help with the task. Through a rigorous process of research, citizen engagement, discussion and elimination, the group identified 36 community sustainability indicators to measure the state of our city. Through this process and the energy and enthusiasm it generated, Sustainable Calgary (SC) was born. Now more then ten years later, SC is a citizen-led, non-profit organization that still works as a grass roots organization focusing on citizen engagement. Citizens are the heart, foundation and future of a sustainable city.
“To promote, encourage and support community level actions and initiatives that move Calgary towards a sustainable future. In the context of our urban lives, we define sustainable development as the process of working towards the long-term health and vitality of our city and its citizens with regard to ecological, social, cultural and economic processes.”
To create the first sustainable city in Canada
The following principles embody Sustainable Calgary’s definition of what good sustainable development should achieve:

  • Maintain or enhance ecological integrity.
  • Promote sustainable economic development, which for us equates to economic viability within the constraints of ecological limits and social equity goals.
  • Promote social equity.
  • Encourage democratic participation in decision-making that affects peoples' lives.
  • Judge development strategies based not just on short-term gains but also on the impact on the ability of future generations to meet their needs and aspirations.

What We Do:
SC approaches its work through an economic, social and environmental lens and the notion that  success of sustainable development depends upon human behavioural, structural and institutional change. Change begins through education and involvement in community actions and initiatives. SC invites the public, including decision-makers and professional working in the field to join in education forums, discussions and in more focused work to make these changes. SC also work as advocates for sustainable principles and applications. Though the idea of sustainability is growing popular in business, governments and education spheres, it is necessary for citizens to advocate for the implementation of these principles and work towards making lasting changes that will move Calgary towards a sustainable future.
Consequently Sustainable Calgary:

Creates opportunities to learn about sustainable living principles, policies and practices such as education forums and workshop. In 2007, we presented two public sustainable transportation forums: Smart Growth March 26 and a two day event Sustainable, Equitable and Smart Transportation September 28, 29, including a screening of A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions form Curitiba, Brazil an discussions about issues with a wide variety of participants including marginalized Calgarians.
Promotes dialogue among diverse groups of people including local residents and decision-makers about policies and issues, such as the Citizens’ Agenda project. SCS has pioneered broad and large-scale citizen participation in our projects. Many individuals have contributed their time and effort. We now have over 400 members, have engaged more than two thousand Calgarians in workshops and projects about our city and sustainability. In 2007 we hosted talks for the Calgary Public Library, professional organizations, community organizations and schools.
Develops tools to monitor Calgary's long-term sustainability and quality of life and well being, such as the community sustainability indicators. SCS has published three "State of Our City" reports since 1999 The State of Our City Project is an in-depth look at the health of Calgary's living environment. The goal of this project is to track Calgary's long-term health using a set of sustainability indicators and to inform Calgarians of the city's progress through State of Our City reports. The sustainability indicators are key tools we use as a benchmark for analysis, education and discussion about sustainable concepts.
Conducts research and write reports about sustainability issues and policiesIn 2007 we published a report on “Overcoming Barriers to Smart Growth and on the first phase of the Citizens' Agenda project.
Advocates for sustainable principles and takes action. We are currently building strategies to engage citizens and advocate for the implementation of action on sustainability issues as part of our Citizens’ Agenda Project – Indicators to Action. Right now a group is engaging in discussions about sustainable transportation.
Consider joining us as we move into the future.
Since the core group began, many other individuals have contributed their time and effort to our projects. Sustainable Calgary now boasts over 240 members, has engaged thousands of Calgarians in workshops and projects about Calgary and sustainability, and has published three "State of Our City" reports providing facts about the city's sustainability against key indicators. A fourth report will be released in 2008. This represents ten years of indicator reporting - A Significant Milestone on the Road to Sustainability.



Invitation to Action 2009
Did you know that the City of Calgary is currently developing a long-term plan: Plan It Calgary that will direct growth for the next 50 to 60 years? The Plan It Calgary project explores possible futures for Calgary through an integrated land use and mobility plan that accommodates an additional 1.3 million people and over 600,000 jobs. Managing how and where this growth occurs will be critical in creating a sustainable city.
We want the outcomes of this project to provide Calgarians with the most sustainable and equitable city – one that results in future generations having a healthy natural environment, a resilient economy, vibrant neighbourhoods and effective transportation - so that no matter where you live, it is possible to live in Calgary without owning a car.
In order to achieve this fundamental shift in the way the city is built, we need your help to encourage City Council to implement the most sustainable and equitable options.
What is Happening Now
The Plan It Calgary project ( is guided by the eight Key Directions for Land Use and Mobility. These were developed from The City of Calgary Council approved 11 sustainability principles crafted from imagineCALGARY, City policy and Smart Growth principles. Upcoming opportunities for your input include the Land Use, Planning & Transportation (LPT) Committee of City Council to approve the eight key directions in mid-October, and a Big Map event in November.
Sustainable Calgary is working to inform Calgarians about the Plan It Calgary project, the issues at stake and the importance of speaking up right now while the process is underway. Your involvement is critical in encouraging City Council to shift the direction that growth has taken in the past and setting in place a significant milestone on the road to becoming a Sustainable City. We need your help to move this action forward.
Spend Five Minutes for a Sustainable Future”
and do at least the first four of these actions:

 1. Read about Plan It Calgary and Think about what kind of City you want

2. Sign the Charter.

3. Call or write your Alderman and the Mayor Google The City of Calgary Office of the Alderman.

4. Talk with neighbours, colleagues about the kind of city they want to see.

5. Find out when the issue is being discusded at City Hall and attend to show your support for a sustainable future.

Five Minutes could make all the difference!