A mainstay of downtown Calgary’s landscape for the past three decades may undergo a significant makeover with a focus on improved public safety.

Olympic Plaza, which was constructed to host the medal ceremonies for the 1988 Winer Olympic Games, was meant to be a temporary installation but Calgarians embraced the addition. The area has hosted public New Year’s Eve events, music festivals, cultural exhibits, and ice skating.

Plans are being discussed to give Olympic Plaza an extensive facelift including the construction of a new theatre and a residential tower in the northwest corner and upgrading existing buildings that surround the plaza. Arts Common and the municipal plaza in front of City Hall are slated to undergo improvements as part of the plan.

The City says Olympic Plaza has been identified as a priority project for restoration.

“Olympic Plaza is at the end of its life cycle,” said Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell. “In many ways it wasn't built to last it.”

Farrell says council will need to be creative when it comes to funding projects during tough economic times. The City plans to use funds collected through the Community Revitalization Levy from the new residential tower to cover the yet-to-be-determined costs associated with the Olympic Plaza upgrading.

Not all Calgarians are on board with the plan to add residences near the intersection of 7 Avenue and 1 Street Southeast. Richard Cabansag fears the move would increase congestion in an already busy area.

"I think they just need to make the park bigger instead of putting in more buildings,” said Cabansag.

Farrell believes the upgrades would increase public space during popular events.

"During major celebrations we can have the municipal plaza linked to Olympic Plaza more seemlessly so there is more room for everyone, a net gain of usable space.”

The city has tabled the idea and is working out the details with a number of stakeholders including the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

The City plans to host future public engagement sessions to allow Calgarians an opportunity to provide input.

With files from CTV’s Kathy Le