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Downtown Calgary. About 2,000 Cenovus employees currently currently work in the Bow building, seen at right, and now the company plans to lease more than two-thirds of the proposed new Brookfield Place Calgary.

CHRIS BOLIN/The Globe and Mail

Canadian oil giant Cenovus Energy Inc. will be the anchor tenant for Brookfield Place Calgary, a proposed downtown skyscraper slated to become the tallest structure in Western Canada by 2017.

Brookfield Office Properties Inc. made the announcement Wednesday, saying Cenovus has agreed to lease more than two thirds of the 247-metre-high east tower in the full-block, $1-billion-plus development.

But Cenovus insisted Wednesday it is not abandoning what is currently the tallest structure west of Toronto – the downtown Bow building – which stands at 236 metres and is located just a couple of blocks from where the new building will rise.

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Rhona DelFrari, a spokeswoman for Cenovus, said the energy company simply needs more space for its Calgary staff because not everybody can fit into the brand new Bow building, which just had its official opening ceremony in June.

"What this will allow us to do is to get more of our staff that are outside the Bow into one location," said Ms. DelFrari. "Primarily we would be in the Bow and in the new Brookfield building."

She said about 2,000 Cenovus employees and contractors now work in the Bow building – owned by H&R REIT – but hundreds of others are spread out in 10 different buildings, mostly downtown.

"Ideally we would be able to move most of those staff from those other buildings into this new building. For us it just makes business sense too because it's more efficient to be operating out of fewer buildings," she said. "It increases productivity when people don't have to go between buildings to meet face-to-face."

While Encana occupies the upper half of the Bow building, Ms. DelFrari said when Cenovus staff move into Brookfield Place Calgary in early 2018 – they will take up the top of the east tower.

Construction of Brookfield Place Calgary – previously named 225 Sixth – is scheduled to start in September. Brookfield, already one of Calgary's largest office landlords, said in a news release that it believes the it will have no trouble filling the rest of the development. "The Calgary office market continues to thrive, with a market vacancy of approximately five per cent. In addition to Cenovus Energy's lease commitment, there are many large tenants in the market with expiries between 2015-2020 which would coincide with Brookfield Place Calgary's delivery date of 2017."

In addition to the east tower, development plans at the site call for another office tower, an 18-metre-high transparent glass pavilion, restaurants, retail shops, and underground parking. If the project comes to fruition, the property will also house a bicycle parking facility accessible by dedicated bike ramps and electric car plug-in stations.

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Earlier this month in Calgary, Telus Corp. unveiled plans for the 58-storey Telus Sky building, nearly as tall as the Bow building and like Brookfield's tower, also scheduled to be completed in 2017.

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