The origin of Water for Riley

At the Big Reveal on 18 January, several people asked where the concept for a student designed drinking fountain in Riley Park originated.

In summer of 2010, a White West-highland (Westie) puppy named Trail was 11 weeks old and just adopted into a Hillhurst family.

Trail at 11 weeks old.

While walking in Riley Park, Trail let it be known he was thirsty. Very, very thirsty. With typical “Westitude” (the Westie breed is famous for attitude), Trail demanded water. When he wanted something, he was as ear splitting loud as a shrieking child.

There was no water to be had anywhere in the park

Trail and his humans had to forego the rest of their walk.

This experience had us think – if a puppy got thirsty enough to stop a family’s outdoor activities, how much more important was it to keep children happy, hydrated, and healthy? We know the negative health consequences of sedentary children and the need to get them in nature. Supplying drinking water to keep them playing in Riley Park was obvious.

With ACAD and SAIT so close, the idea of making the drinking fountain a community-building, student engagement project was born from that dog walk.

There were many pieces to bring together in the collaboration. Slowly, it gained momentum until it’s half way to reality.

Trail attended all the early planning meetings, the student walk-around groups with City of Calgary Parks Department staff, and the Water for Riley committee strategy sessions that took place in Riley Park.

Bored to sleep at a meeting.

Trail’s eager to be the first dog to drink from the Reflecting Bloom that is specifically designed at his height.

Trail can dream big

And, for the record, Trail is a calm six year old who loves Riley Park and doesn’t scream anymore.

To volunteer for Water for Riley call 403 862 1923.

Help make the dream come true, donate to the drinking fountain in Riley Park.

To donate through the Parks Foundation, click in the button and specify your contribution is for the Water for Riley project.


Revealed: drinking fountain will be Reflecting Blooms

Reflecting Blooms is the jury’s unanimous choice.

ACAD student Michelle Lazo’s elegant and accessible drinking fountain design was unveiled last night.

In a warm, entertaining, and supportive event, Michelle and her fellow student finalists learned the jury’s decision.

Francesca, Kale Ann and Michelle react to the unveiling of Michelle’s Reflecting Blooms as the winning design

Although only one design can be built for Riley Park, all the speakers expressed the same message:

Water for Riley isn’t only about a drinking fountain.

SAIT instructor Greg Ball, ACAD instructor Kerry Harmer, ACAD President Daniel Doz, Jury Chair Sally Truss and City of Calgary representative Ron Buchan, all spoke of how the Water for Riley project has been a community-building and engagement process from the beginning.

The students learned more than how to design a drinking fountain.

And, for Michelle, the learning will continue. Michelle will be involved in Water for Riley’s ongoing tasks of fundraising and overseeing the engineering, fabrication, and installation of “her” drinking fountain.

Kale, Michelle and Francesca with their designs.

Water for Riley congratulates all 29 SAIT and ACAD students who submitted designs.

If you want to help please call 403 862 1923. Let’s discuss which Water for Riley volunteer activity is right for you.

To donate, click in the button to go to the Parks Foundation. Once at the Parks Foundation site, please indicate your donation is for Water for Riley Park.


The Big Reveal: another community building event from W4R

The Big Reveal event was a stunning success

Kerry Harmer’s 3D Object Design class submitted 19 of the superb drinking fountain designs. She spoke about what it meant to her students to have real-world experience of designs’ impacts in the public realm.

Kerry Harmer was outstanding as emcee

Kerry’s counterpart is Greg Ball, SAIT instructor for the two Capstone Program teams that submitted designs. Greg observed three benefits his eight students obtained through their participation in Water for Riley. They saw the application of their effort to outcomes; learned problem solving in the context of client needs, and saw the social interactions among government, industry and non profits sectors. Greg also noted that Water for Riley provided rare cross fertilization between SAIT and ACAD students, which could be a model for the future to sharing thinking.

Greg saw SAIT and ACAD students learn from each others’ ways of thinking in a rare cross-fertilization on a project.

Dr. Daniel Doz, President of ACAD, said how proud he is of all the 29 student designers.

Jocelyn Kabatoff, Chair of The Big Reveal event, stands with all 21 of the design posters. Framed on Fifth donated all the framing for the project.

Daniel, among others, commented on the neighborhood feeling Water for Riley reinforces. He then dropped the cover and revealed the winner, Michelle Lazo’s Reflecting Blooms.

Dr. Daniel Doz before revealing the winning design.

Michelle told the story that her father worked for Calgary’s Parks Department. She grew up going to Riley Park and loved the flowers that inspired her design. She was really happy all the experiences came together and thanked her team and Kerry. She felt like she’d come full circle. “Dad worked there. Now my thumbprint will be there too.”

Michelle with the poster of her winning design, Reflecting Blooms

Sally Truss told her connection to Riley Park stemmed from being Executive Director of This is My City Art Society, which yarn bombed the house that became Aurora on the Park, a supportive and affordable residence. A drinking fountain is a welcoming gesture to the 25 Aurora residents who are across the street neighbours of Riley Park. Sally then described the process by which the jury had selected Reflecting Blooms. She praised the jury members, Michelle Reid of the City of Calgary Heritage Department, and the students who submitted designs. Thanks and shouts out to IBI Group for expert input that helped the jury reach its decision.

Sally was Chair of Water for Riley’s professional jury.

Ron Buchan, City of Calgary Parks Department, expressed how tremendous a project Water for Riley is. He recalled getting a request for a drinking fountain for Riley Park and thinking it was the usual concrete block residents wanted, and how much more exciting the student design challenge was. He asked his manager what directions he should give the students to guide their designs. His manager replied: “Give them nothing and let them run wild.” He’s really excited to see this fountain in the ground. “Riley Park is already a wonderful amenity and this drinking fountain design will enhance it.”

Ron challenged the community to replicate the Water for Riley process with a design competition for the proposed Riley Park bandstand.

Water for Riley thanks all its funders and sponsors, and especially Jocelyn Kabatoff and the volunteers who made The Big Reveal a reality.

Pushing Petals donated a glorious bouquet that graced the sponsors’ table and was given to Michelle when she won.
Please support those who support Water for Riley

You can help. To get involved, call 403 862 1923.
To donate, click the button and let the Parks Foundation
know you want to support Water for Riley.

The big reveal of the winning student design

The jury has reached its decision

The student design for Riley Park’s  public art and drinking fountain project will be unveiled January 18, 2017, at 4:00pm at Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD), Main Street Mall, 1407 – 14 Ave. NW, Calgary, Alberta.

This project was a first in Calgary

Water for Riley brought together three adjoining academic institutions – Hillhurst Elementary School, ACAD and SAIT – the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, Kensington businesses, The Parks Foundation Calgary, Place2Give Foundation, The Calgary Foundation, The City of Calgary Parks Department, politicians at all three levels of government, and local residents.

This is an important project for many reasons

Educational: A learning opportunity for students to see how their design can come to life as an artistic enhancement to a community’s wellbeing
Environmental: Over the course of a summer season hundreds of plastic bottle waste will be diverted from the waste system as the drinking fountain will include a bottle refilling station
Health: Children are the biggest users of the playground and they need water to stay hydrated and stay active in the park, which may set them on a healthy path for life
Social: A community building initiative that brings together all three legs of society’s stool – public, private and charitable sectors.

Please join us as we celebrate this milestone for Calgary, for the Hillhurst Sunnyside community, our beautiful regional Riley Park, and the students of ACAD and SAIT.

Which design will it be?

You can help

To get involved, call 403 862 1923.

To donate,
click the button
and let The Parks Foundation
know you want to support
Water for Riley

Water for Riley has a dream

The big reveal

Water for Riley gratefully acknowledges the Calgary Foundation for its Stepping Stone Grant  to support the January 18, 2017, celebration of the jury’s final decision.

A volunteer planning committee is organizing the gathering at ACAD. Stay tuned for the details of this event where that big design announcement will be revealed.

Which one of these exciting student designs for Riley Park?


What happens in Riley Park on a warm day?

Children play and wade in the pool, families spread their picnics, cricketeers run on the pitch, teenagers enjoy music, walkers appreciate the flowers, and people toss frisbees to dogs. At every stage of life, we benefit from nature and outdoor activity. And we become thirsty in the process.

Water for Riley’s dream is to:

  1. Provide drinking water to keep Riley Park users healthy and active.
  2. Engage community in a unique, creative, legacy project that has cumulative, spinoff impacts.


In the past year Water for Riley has brought together elementary and post secondary students, community members, shelter residents, politicians, local and regional park users and businesses.

Imagine children having accessible water when their play makes them thirsty. Envision a traveling sculpture garden the fountain could attract. A beautiful, artistic, functional drinking fountain in Riley Park would be a boost to our vibrant community, opening almost unlimited creative possibilities for the coming years.

The next steps

This announcement will close phase two of the W4R process.

Phase three is fundraising to fabricate the drinking fountain. W4R has identified 13 possible fundraising approaches for 2017.

Phase four, the construction and installation, depends on the fundraising success.

If you are able to help with this or another of the upcoming events, please call 403 862 1923. Let’s discuss which of these volunteer committees’ activities is right for you. Be part of all that makes this park so special.

To donate, go to the Parks Foundation site. Once at that site, please indicate your donation is for Water for Riley Park.

Thank you to The Calgary Foundation, wonderful W4R volunteers, five anonymous jurors, jury chair Sally Truss, and ACAD, among others.



Update as Water for Riley enters phase 3

Water for Riley made tremendous progress in the past few months. Among other news:

The jury has selected one design

Phase 1, over the past year, garnered 21 drinking fountain designs. In phase 2, the jury shortlisted three designs that went for technical review. The jury met and decided unanimously on one design. Phase 2 concludes in mid-January, 2017, when the jury’s selection of the final design is announced. W4R thanks the anonymous five jurors for diligent volunteer service, and their superb Chair, Sally Truss.

It will be one of these three exciting student designs:


The Calgary Foundation has awarded W4R a Stepping Stone Grant

W4R is so grateful to receive a Stepping Stone grant for the celebration at which the winning design will be announced. A volunteer planning committee is organizing a gathering soon to be held on ACAD’s campus. Everyone will be invited, so stay tuned for the details of this public event. Thank you to The Calgary Foundation, wonderful volunteers and ACAD, among others.

The Parks Foundation Calgary is W4R’s new fiscal agent

Place2Give has been a creative, wise partner from the beginning of the project. As fiscal agent, Place2Give CEO, Gena Rotstein, gave W4R excellent advice. Place2Give’s advisory relationship with W4R will continue. Thank you to the Parks Foundation, which is now accepting donations on W4R’s behalf.

The Parks Foundation joins W4R’s other generous collaborating partners.


donors & partners

Phase 3 will soon be underway

Phase 3 is to build this winning design. Phase 4 will be the installation and grand unveiling celebration of this beautiful, functional, artistic drinking fountain.

Phase 3 depends on successful fundraising to pay for the construction. If you are able to volunteer to help with one of the upcoming fundraising events, please call 403 862 1923. Let’s discuss which of these volunteer committees’ activities is right for you.

To donate, click in the button to go to the Parks donate buttonFoundation site. Once at that site, please indicate your donation is for Water for Riley Park.


Five ways to build a legacy

The Water for Riley (W4R) organizing committee is restructuring for W4R’s last stages of activity. Here are five exciting volunteer contributions you can make to this legacy project:job titles Volunteer Opportunities

Special Events Coordinator: short term organizing a function at ACAD, long term organizing celebrations leading to conclusion of project, coordinating with Fundraising Committee.

Duties for this position include:

  • Logistics and plan the event to announce the winner of the drinking fountain design challenge (October, 2016)
  • Logistics and plan the event unveiling the finished product (summer 2017 ideally)
  • Recruit volunteer support
  • Work with Project Manager to create guest list and set tone for the events
  • Write blog posts leading up to events and follow up posts detailing the experiences had/felt/enjoyed
  • Work with Project Manager, Fundraising volunteers, PR/Marketing volunteers to set budget and ensure continuity of the W4R brand
  1. PR/Marketing-Communications: short term planning how to get W4R better known in the community and City-wide, long term build the brand

Duties for this position include:

  • Craft marketing & communication strategy for the next phase of Water for Riley focusing on engaging businesses as sponsors –individual donors and community organizations to support the fundraising activities
  • Recruit and engage individuals to activate the PR/Marketing-Communications strategy
  • Update blog post as aligned with Marketing-Communications strategy and/or work with Project Manager to help with blog posts
  1. Social Media: short term coordination of various SM platforms for consistent branding, long term operation of those SM

Duties for this position include:

  • Assist the Marketing-Communications volunteer with developing the strategy (if skills are relevant)
  • Execute the SM strategy developed with the Marketing-Communications volunteer
  • Recruit others to help with social media
  • Seek and execute opportunities to post and tweet about W4R

Fundraising: short term goal to organize a committee, long term goal to bridge the gap between money already raised and cost of the drinking fountain

Duties for this position include:

  • Recruit and build an engaged, high functioning fundraising committee
  • Use the straw outline of the fundraising concepts to develop a comprehensive plan targeting three groups:
    • Community leagues, organizations, and informal groups that use Riley Park
    • Corporate:
      • Develop a corporate sponsorship pitch for names on plaque dedication on the fountain
      • Develop a corporate sponsorship package for the Kensington/Hillhurst/Sunnyside business community (lesser donation than a named sponsor)
    • Individuals, both users and non-users of Riley Park
      • Hyper-localized
      • Broader
      • City-wide
    • Implement the plan with financial goals to hit $70K
    • Work with Special Events volunteers, Marketing/Communications volunteers and Project Manager to ensure continuity of messaging and W4R brand
    • Write a blog post monthly sharing the updates on fundraising and other relevant information

Donors: W4R  is a citizen driven sub-committee of the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association. All donations of $10.00 and greater get tax receipts from the Parks Foundation.

Click here to donate through the Parks Foundation and specify that your support is for the Water for Riley project. donate button

You can be involved with the drinking fountain for Riley Park. Call 403 862 1923 to volunteer, with questions or for more information.


Another letter of support

Water for Riley is very proud to have letters of support from all three levels of government, municipal and provincial, and now federal. Our thanks to Len Webber, Member of Parliament for Calgary Confederation, where Riley Park is located. Mr. Webber’s office is just blocks north of Riley Park.

MP Len Webber ltr of support

You can be involved with the drinking fountain for Riley Park. Call 403 862 1923 or email with questions and to volunteer. All donations of $10.00 and greater get tax receipts from Parks Foundation.donate button

Click here to donate through the Parks Foundation and specify your support is for the Water for Riley project.


Water for Riley thanks partners and donors

At this almost half way point, Water for Riley thanks those who have made it possible for the project to get this far. Donors include The Calgary Foundation, Sunnyside Natural Market, Framed on Fifth, and Alberta Culture and Tourism.

donors & partners

For your donations, thank you. Water for Riley values all its community relationships, which are as important as drinking water in the park on a hot day.

All donations of $10.00 and greater get tax receipts from the Parks Foundation.donate button

Click here to donate and specify your donation is in support of the Water for Riley project.

Call 403 862 1923 or email with questions and to volunteer.

Drinking water in Riley Park’s past, present and future

The City Parks Department was first among Water for Riley’s valued partners, helping every way it can. Parks officials acknowledge that Riley Park needs drinking water. The City of Calgary calls this an unfunded priority, meaning a drinking fountain’s need is recognized as a priority and there are no funds for it.

The Present

The red oval in the photo shows where a nozzle and bowl should protrude from the wall during the few months the wading pool is open. It’s accessible only from the wading pool area. No dogs are allowed near it, it isn’t close to the children’s playground, and it’s location isn’t accessible to the disabled. As the pool season started this year even this drinking bowl wasn’t available.

2016-07-11 15.40.28

The Past

According to officials in the City Parks Department, many years ago there was a concrete block drinking fountain southeast of the playground, like the one pictured below. The City removed that old fountain and, according to best memory, permanently sealed the water line to it.


The future of drinking water in beautiful Riley Park is up to you.

Help get one of these artistic drinking fountains installed in beautiful Riley Park. All donations greater than $10.00 get a tax receipt from the donate buttonParks Foundation. Please donate and specify your support is for the Water for Riley project. Call 403 862 1923 or email for more information or to volunteer.

Water for Riley thanks the City of Calgary for all its help with this project and for the site where the drinking fountain will be installed – once the funds are raised. And thanks to all donors on behalf of all Calgary, past, present and future.

Ron from Parks meets ACAD student designers in Riley Park