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Alberta legislature fountains to begin running again on Canada Day

The Alberta legislature grounds on June 26th, 2024. Legislature grounds on June 26th, 2024

A new reflecting pool and dome fountain at the Alberta legislature will be up and running by Canada Day.

It comes as renovations to the fountains and wading pools is underway. Infrastructure Minister Pete Guthrie said on Wednesday the first phase of the project is on time.

Legislature grounds on June 26th, 2024. Global News

“Construction of Phase 1 is just wrapping up and we are officially the fountain and pool on July 1 just in time for Canada Day celebrations here on the grounds.”

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The reflecting pool, north cascade fountains and dome fountain were originally built in the 1970s and had been closed since 2020 due to age-related maintenance concerns.

To complete the new reflecting pool and dome fountain, the province said crews used two types of Canadian granite, the majority of which was repurposed from the old fountain and pool.

Last January, the province announced it would be redesigning the north Alberta legislature grounds. At that time, the province asked the public for feedback.

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In April 2023, the government announced a design called the “River” had been selected out of three proposed redesign options.

Alberta legislature grounds redesign option “River.” Jan. 12, 2023. Supplied: Government of Alberta

The new design will replace the terraced wading pools. The new water feature will be part of a larger project to refurbish the north plaza.

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Construction has been underway since last spring.

Upgrades to the legislature grounds are divided into two phases. Phase one included the refurbishment of the reflecting pool and dome fountain. Phase two includes the “River” water feature concept, which is expected to be finished in 2025.

Guthrie said the new water installations are safer and more efficient than before and the pool can accommodate more people such as those with mobility challenges.

The existing water features were built back in 1979 and the pool remains six inches deep to avoid the need for lifeguards on duty.

“As part of the first phase, crews replaced walkways, concrete decking, fountains, gardens and they upgraded mechanical and water filtration systems to meet current building codes and health standards.”

Legislature grounds on June 26th, 2024. Legislature grounds on June 26th, 2024

Guthrie said he didn’t have exact numbers, but said Phase 1 cost about $10 million.

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Back in  January 2023, the government announced the entire project would cost about $20 million, with half of the money coming from the Alberta budget and the remaining $10 million from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program ($8 million from the federal government and $2 million from the Alberta government).

Speaker Nathan Cooper has watched the work progress from his office window at the legislature. He said he’s happy to have the fountains back up and ready, so more people have a reason to visit.

“Anything that we can do to encourage people to come to the legislative grounds, to commune, to meet each other here — I think helps to the overall fabric of the province of Alberta.”

Cooper said continuing to invest in infrastructure like this will encourage more young Albertans to come to the legislature grounds and encourage engagement in democracy.

The project did not come without surprises, but the crews worked long hours to meet the deadlines.

“With any reclamation type project once you get in there, you start to discover more and more issues. So, you start digging, the scope expands so that’s one thing and then there’s always the elements.”

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