With construction out front, 17th Avenue businesses take the party to the alley
A popular stretch of bars and restaurants is making the most of a closed road, with some help from the city
It's business in the front and party in the back this weekend and next in an alley behind 17th Avenue S.W.
The roadway between Fifth Street and Fourth Street has been torn up as part of a massive rebuild of the popular entertainment strip, so the businesses — including Local 510, the Ship and Anchor and Ox Bar de Tapas — and the city have transformed the alley into a walkway with patios, lights, music and more.
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"The city has transformed, in conjunction with an architecture firm, the back alley into a backyard," said Peter Oliver, the president of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association.
"It's a really one of a kind event you haven't seen before in Calgary."
Oliver said the idea was modelled after Melbourne, Australia, where the back lanes which are crammed with people and patios.
Beyond what you'd expect on a block that includes plenty of food and drinks, there's outdoor movie screenings, morning yoga as well as live music during the event.
"The weather's not the best we could have wished for, but Calgarians are resilient," said Dan Northfield, the operations manager of Local 510. "Construction can't hold us back, bad weather can't hold us back."
He said it's great to be able to take a bad situation and turn it into something positive.
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For Shawn Harder, who lives in a building that backs onto the alley, the new look out his backdoor came as a surprise.
"Just came out for a smoke and apparently I have grass in the backyard now," he said. "It was gravel, now we can play soccer out here."
Harder said he thinks it's "awesome" that the community is pulling together to throw a party. He says he's already called friends to come down and enjoy it with him.
The alley party runs this weekend and next.
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With files from Mike Symington