PopulationMetro: 1,290,000
Canada’s energy capital is building for its future.

Although Toronto holds the title of Canada’s business heart, it’s Calgary—Canada’s youngest city and home to its energy industry—that’s a solid #2.

There’s an energy here of a much larger place. People walk with the velocity of New Yorkers, and cut to the chase like Texans.

As a result, Calgary ranks #19 globally in our Prosperity category (up a spot over last year despite a struggling oil industry), including an impressive #12 in GDP per capita, only one spot behind New York.

The fortunes of the city rise and fall with the price of oil and gas in International markets. Calgary is a boom-bust town where companies are built, then bought for 10 cents on the dollar when the buyer gets desperate, or needs start-up funds for the next venture. The challenge in this city of risk-takers has been to level the rises and falls—to diversify away from fossil fuels and invest for the future, building an economically resilient home town for a place that ranks #8 globally in our People category, including #8 for Educational Attainment by its citizens and #35 for those foreign born.

CITY PERFORMACE
Place
Place 38
Product
Product 16
Programming
Programming 6
People
People 80
Prosperity
Prosperity 57
Promotion
Promotion 8

That level of in-flow into a city three hours from another city of its size (Edmonton) is a testament to the openness and equal opportunity the city offers.

The diversity of it population is also increasing, with the popular example being Naheed Nenshi, the first Muslim mayor elected of a large North American city. He just won a third term by challenging the city’s focus on the bottom-line, opting to build big public projects like the spectacular New Central Library at a time of depressed energy prices and spiking unemployment in the city.

He also took on the darlings of the business community when he refused to buckle to the city’s only (and much-revered) big-league sports team, the Calgary Flames, and their demands for a new arena subsidized by city taxes.

The deep freeze of low oil prices isn’t as paralyzing as during previous dips. The city’s civic and corporate leaders are investing heavily in institutions for future citizens.

Calgary’s Metropolitan Area

That level of in-flow into a city three hours from another city of its size (Edmonton) is a testament to the openness and equal opportunity the city offers.

The diversity of it population is also increasing, with the popular example being Naheed Nenshi, the first Muslim mayor elected of a large North American city. He won a third term in 2017 by challenging the city’s focus on the bottom-line, opting to build big public projects like the spectacular New Central Library at a time of depressed energy prices and spiking unemployment in the city.

He also took on the darlings of the business community when he refused to buckle to the city’s only (and much-revered) big-league sports team, the Calgary Flames, and their demands for a new arena subsidized by city taxes.

The deep freeze of low oil prices isn’t as paralyzing as during previous dips. The city’s civic and corporate leaders are investing heavily in institutions for future citizens.

Studio Bell, home of the National Music Center

A new international terminal opened in the city’s busy airport in 2017, with thoughtful, local touches like the Vin Room, an independent Calgary wine bar that pours almost 100 wines by the glass, the largest selection at any airport restaurant in the world. Local institutions Spolumbo’s, an Italian deli, and Lammle’s Western Wear & Tack, are among 50 shopping and dining locations inside the new terminal. Wolfgang Puck has also opened his second Canadian restaurant in the new terminal and the new Calgary Airport Marriott hotel offers direct access from it.

Back downtown, the city’s East Village neighborhood is a rising phoenix, on the once-neglected eastern side of the city. It today competes with any city-building project in the country, with Studio Bell, Canada’s newest cultural landmark and home of the new National Music Centre, boasting three Canadian music halls of fame, plus an impressive collection of instruments and artifacts spanning more than 450 years.

Two hotels, including the Alt Hotel Calgary, a Le Germain property, are scheduled to open in coming months.

The neighborhood’s historic Simmons Building has also been restored and now houses nationally lauded Charbar, a hyperlocal bakery called Sidewalk Citizen, and local coffee roaster Phil & Sebastian.

To further pad Calgary’s soon-to-improve #61 global rank for Parks and Outdoor Activities, the East Village’s revitalized St. Patrick’s Island, a 31-acre urban oasis with a picnic grove, natural playground and fishing cove, connects locals and visitors to the under-appreciated Bow River that runs through the city.