Scaffolding will stay around Calgary Public Building for at least 4 more years

The Calgary Public Building on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018.
The Calgary Public Building on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Global News

Since there’s no money for it in the capital budget, scaffolding will remain in place around the Calgary Public Building for at least another four years.

The lobby of the building is the entrance to the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Stephen Avenue. It also houses six floors of offices for the City of Calgary.

In 2016, a piece of stonework fell off the building and netting and scaffolding went up. During budget deliberations Thursday, Calgary city council was told there’s no money in the capital budget to fix the problems with the historic building. Preliminary cost estimates range from $18 million to $50 million.

READ MORE: Arts funding spared from cuts by Calgary city council

Darrel Bell is acting director of facility management for the City of Calgary. He said there are three possible options including removing some of the heritage elements to a full rehabilitation which will stabilize the building and restore the heritage elements.

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“What we’re thinking about is a hybrid, which takes some of the stabilization and the full rehab and that would be around $35 million.”

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Council is being asked to approve $400,000 to keep the netting and scaffolding in place for another four years to catch any stones that might fall off.

Bell said the city does an inspection every three months and discovered some debris.

“Very small pieces. I’m saying it’s more dust than stones, to be honest with you, it’s not big pieces.”

The age of the eight-storey building and weather are said to be the main factors causing the problem.

READ MORE: Multi-million dollar repairs approved for Calgary’s historic City Hall

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s troubled by the situation.

“We have a heritage asset that we own that far more employees work in than ever worked in historic city hall.

“And thousands and thousands and thousands of people go through downstairs every day and we’ve had scaffolding up for years and we’ll have scaffolding up for four more years.”

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Restoration of historic city hall is underway with a budget of $40 million.

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Nenshi wants a solution to the problem facing the public building.

“These are big numbers and I don’t know if I can find you that money today,” he said during budget discussions Thursday.

“I’m really troubled that we’re just allowing this condition to continue. I don’t think that is how we ought to be treating our assets where we have people working in them everyday.”

The Calgary Public Building is a municipally designated heritage resource and was opened in 1931. It served as Calgary’s first main post office and federal government building.

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