About Urban Alliance

Urban Alliance Mission

The mission of Urban Alliance is to enable research and education that will help improve the overall quality of life for Calgarians. Its purpose is to help achieve the imagineCALGARY vision through collaboration – attracting and engaging top researchers who will seek out and implement solutions to pressing municipal issues through high quality research. 

The intent of Urban Alliance is to foster closer ties between The City of Calgary and the University of Calgary, and to develop the human talent that Calgary needs to ensure a robust economy and a healthy, vibrant and caring city. 

University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is Canada's leading next-generation university – a growing and youthful institution that embraces changes and opportunity with a can-do attitude.

We've been ranked amongst the world's top universities and we've done it by pushing our limits, challenging ourselves to do better, and seeking knowledge – wherever that journey takes us. We're never afraid to question conventional wisdom, and we share what we find openly and eagerly. 

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City of Calgary

The City of Calgary has served the people of Calgary since 1884. The role of City Council is to govern The City of Calgary, Calgary's municipal corporation, providing the civic services Calgarians need and want. 

In response to Council's agenda, the Corporation delivers excellent public service and delivers on Council's priorities. Their goal is to create and sustain a vibrant, healthy, safe and caring community, while "proudly serving a great city". 

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In 2007, Urban Alliance was created by signing a goodwill-based Memorandum of Understanding that enabled The City of Calgary and University of Calgary to formally work together for the next 24 years to pursue a common mission and purpose. 

The University of Calgary and The City of Calgary have for many years interacted with each other in various areas on a transactional basis, each with regard to its own mission, vision and goals. Both organizations believe that they will benefit from an enduring alliance with the other that is based upon a common, supportive vision. The senior administrations of both organizations are deeply committed to the success of Urban Alliance.

In its initial three-year phase, Urban Alliance established one research professorship (Transportation Systems Optimization) and attracted funding in support of more than 60 research projects. These investigations engaged over 100 researchers, students and practitioners. This was accomplished with a start-up grant of $300,000 from Alberta Municipal Affairs, which saw the potential of a cooperative venture that could benefit The City of Calgary and, in the future, other municipalities in Alberta and beyond. Since then, many more collaborative projects and initiatives have been undertaken in diverse areas, for the benefit of our communities.   

Through the Urban Alliance, both organizations pursue common interests in research, development and education relating to:

  • Finding excellent solutions to complex problems facing Calgary
  • Fostering world class research and innovation
  • Developing highly qualified personnel
  • Establishing flexible, cross-discipline approaches
  • Energizing the relationship between University and City staff
  • Facilitating continuity of corporate memory, wisdom and experience
  • Realizing Calgary’s long term priorities and the imagineCALGARY vision
  • Nurturing a long term partnership between The City and the University
  • Identifies strategic issues facing the city
  • Connects university researchers with questions for which the city seeks answers
  • Encourages multi-disciplinary solutions to complex problems
  • Builds a network of relationships and creative dialogue between the two organizations
  • Seeks to leverage funding for research
  • Simplifies essential processes including research administration and data access

All activities of the Urban Alliance are co-led by personnel from both organizations. These activities are supported by the Urban Alliance Coordinator, a position in the Vice-President (Research) Office of the University of Calgary, and a City of Calgary position in Collaboration, Analytics and Innovation.

Urban Alliance is co-led by personnel from both organizations. Strategic direction is provided by the Urban Alliance Steering Committee, which consists of four senior leaders from The City and four from the University and meets three or four times per year. Current membership:

  • Rick Ciezki | Co-Chair | City | Acting Director, Collaboration, Analytics & Innovation
  • Susan Skone | Co-Chair | University | Associate Vice-President (Research)
  • Ryan Vanderputten | Member | City | Director, Business & Engineering Services
  • Chris Collier | Member | City | Director, Occupational Health & Safety
  • TBD | Member | City | TBD
  • John Brown | Member | University | Dean, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
  • Ellen Perrault | Member | University | Dean, Social Work
  • Cathy Ryan | Member | University | Professor, Science