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Calgary’s historic city hall reopens after a 4-year restoration

After a multi-million dollar rejuvenation project, historic Calgary city hall was officially unveiled to the public on Tuesday morning.

The building’s estimated $34.1 million restoration project kicked off in 2016 with site stabilization work.

“In November 2015, council approved a $34.1 million investment for its exterior rehabilitation,” said Darrell Bell the acting director of Facility Management.

“For the next four years, we took on an extensive scope of work,” he added.

The majority of the buildings improvements were made to the exterior.

By spring 2017, it was fully under wraps for three years to protect the sandstone and exposed building elements year-round while work was underway.

The project created 233 full-time jobs over the last 4 years.

A snapshot in time

The building originally housed police, a court, and a jail. While that has since changed, the building still functions as it did same way it did more than a century ago.

It remains the home of Calgary’s civic government and an important meeting place for public gatherings – from demonstrations to protests.

“The parallels between Calgary of 1918 and 2020 are apparent,” said Chris Arthurs, the acting deputy city manager.

This is the second time historic city hall has in fact witnessed a pandemic.

“It had been open for only seven years when the Spanish Flu entered Calgary in 1918,” said Arthurs.

She added that a century ago, the community gathered during a pandemic to celebrate peace.

“Today we come together during a pandemic, to celebrate the renewal of this important heritage resource that has witnessed so much of Calgary’s history,” Arthurs said.


Back to the future

“The folks who were smart enough to build this magnificent piece of public infrastructure in 1911 weren’t building for that day,” said Mayor Nenshi.

“They were building for the future that they wanted to build for their children and their grandchildren.”

He said those who were building the hall had faith that the Calgary community would have an extraordinary future.

“I think that is an example worth emulating for all of us,” said Nenshi.

The building has stood on the same grounds for over a century, and the city hopes that after the restoration, it will stand for 100 more years.