The downtown core is a mass of modern steel-and-glass high-tech high-rises, but between the skyscrapers are a number of the city’s oldest sandstone buildings. The best place to see these is Stephen Avenue Walk, along 8th Avenue between 1st Street SE and 3rd Street SW. This bustling, tree-lined pedestrian mall also has fountains, benches, cafés, restaurants, and souvenir shops. In summer, the mall is full with shoppers and tourists, and at lunchtime, thousands of office workers descend from the buildings above.
At the east end of Stephen Avenue Walk is Olympic Plaza, where nightly medal presentations took place during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. In summer, outdoor concerts are held here, and in winter, the shallow wading pool freezes over and is used as an ice-skating rink. Across 2nd Street SE from the plaza is City Hall, built in 1911. It still houses some city offices, although most have moved next door to the modern Civic Complex.
Crisscrossing downtown is the Plus 15 walkway system—a series of interconnecting, enclosed sidewalks elevated at least 4.5 meters (15 feet—hence the name) above road level. In total, 47 bridges and 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) of public walkway link downtown stores, four large malls, hotels, food courts, and office buildings to give pedestrians protection from the elements. All walkways are well marked and wheelchair accessible.
The following sights can be visited separately or seen on a walking tour (in the order presented).
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition