Alberta legislature fountains, plaza set for $20 million upgrade

·2 min read
Cathy Saar-Paradis, director of project delivery for Alberta Infrastructure, and Dale Beesley, assistant deputy minister of the ministry's properties division, stand beside the tiled wading pools on the grounds of the Alberta legislature. The province wants to demolish this feature and build something that would be safe for children to use.  (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC  - image credit)
Cathy Saar-Paradis, director of project delivery for Alberta Infrastructure, and Dale Beesley, assistant deputy minister of the ministry's properties division, stand beside the tiled wading pools on the grounds of the Alberta legislature. The province wants to demolish this feature and build something that would be safe for children to use. (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC - image credit)

The fountains at the Alberta legislature are getting a $20 million upgrade to repair damage that threatens the integrity of structures underneath the plaza and creates hazards for the public.

The plaza used to be a popular spot for parents and children to hang out on hot summer days in pre-pandemic years.

However, the province has been forced to keep the fountains turned off over the last two summers because of leaks that compromised the safety of the pedway and tunnels underneath the plaza, which was developed in stages starting in the late 1970s.

"I believe every day there was seven gallons of water leaking down due to chlorination and corrosion," provincial Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda said at a news conference Friday.

"There were some suggestions we could have done some band-aid work to keep it open just this year. But the damage will deepen further."

Alberta Infrastructure has issued a request for proposal for design work, with construction starting next spring. The government hopes the work will be completed by 2024.

Construction will be done on the three water features: the reflecting pool, the dome fountain and the multi-level terraced wading pools on the north end of the plaza, which have sustained the most damage.

"The concrete is deteriorating. The rebar is showing through. It's a danger to the public," said Cathy Saar-Paradis, director of project delivery for Alberta Infrastructure. "A child could fall and hit their head on concrete. It has to go."

Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC
Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC

The province wants to completely demolish the wading pools and build something brand new.

The public will get a chance to weigh in on several options later this year once the design work is completed. Options range from a green space to a splash pad for children to play in.

The dome fountain and reflecting pool will appear unchanged to the naked eye but extensive work must be performed underneath.

The reflecting pool, a popular summer wading spot for children, needs to be updated to meet new building codes for pools. That includes adding anti-entrapment drain covers to keep children safe.

Decking on the plaza also needs replacing due to deterioration that has created tripping hazards for pedestrians. Orange pylons currently mark the worst bits of damage.

"All of this will be lifted up and all the membrane underneath will be replaced so that we can stop the deterioration of the structure below," Saar-Paradis said.

The federal government is contributing $8 million to the project. The Alberta government is using $2 million from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program and $10 million from its Budget 2022 capital plan.

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