How the project will flow

The process is in motion.

We have a jury and project plan. We’re excited about how the steps have flowed so far. Here’s what will happen while the volunteers fundraise in the background:

  • Some students have already completed their designs and some students are still preparing submissions. We expect to have 21 designs when the student challenge ends 31st March, 2016.
  • Five anonymous arts professionals have accepted the invitation to sit as jury members. The jury will review all the student designs and create a short list based on criteria such as artistry and heritage values for Riley Park.
  • The City of Calgary has an interest in the designs at this stage for an important reason: Riley Park has cultural and landscape heritage status. Two Parks Department employees are involved on the sidelines waiting for the shortlist. They will give input into how the short list designs meet heritage criteria.
  • The jury will send its short list to our partners, IBI Group. Experts at IBI Group will give the short listed designs a professional review of the feasibility, sustainability, affordability, and technical details. This technical review is because students are not yet professionals.
  • IBI Group will return the short listed designs with detailed feedback. That feedback may include modifications so designs meet industry best practices and City of Calgary standards.
  • The jury will then use IBI Group’s technical feedback and City of Calgary Park’s input to select one design from the short list. The student whose design is selected may have the opportunity to work on any suggested modifications to meet technical code and heritage values.
  • With the final design selected (we hope for late May, early June, 2016,) we will send those specifications to our chosen fabricator (in negotiations now) for drinking fountain construction.
  • Depending on the complexity of the final design and the fabricator’s schedule, the target date for the drinking fountain to be installed and operational is late 2016.

Should we start celebration party planning now? Not yet: there’s a lot of funds yet to be raised.

Be part of it: help Riley Park attain a public drinking fountain, for future generations. Click donate buttonthe button to donate through the Parks Foundation to make this wonderful, artistic drinking fountain reality. Specify your donation is in support of Water for Riley. You can also participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 or email Water for Riley with your contact information.

Student designers get a showcase

To pick one highlight is hard since the entire Water for Riley experience has been outstanding. Would it be the excitement of planning, the delight of collaborating with a terrific group of fun volunteers, the rush when supporters say they’ve wanted a project like this for decades, or maybe building bridges among those wonderful people – hmmm, which one was the highlight?

Let’s go with this past Monday, at Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD), in the first year 3D Object Design course, when the student designers gathered for photographs in front of the wall displaying their drinking fountain designs. Yes; peak experience indeed.
Special thanks to instructor Kerry Harmer for assigning the drinking fountain as a class project, mentoring the student designers to impressive results, and facilitating our attending the class events.
Kerry Harmer, course instructor, 3D Object Design
Kerry Harmer, course instructor, 3D Object Design
Alison Miyauchi, Associate VP, Research + Academic Affairs, congratulated the students for their creative bridging from the college to the community.
Alison Miyauchi, Associate VP, Research + Academic Affairs
Alison Miyauchi, Associate VP, Research + Academic Affairs
JoAnn Reynolds, External Communications, ably directed the short presentation event and wrote an article.
JoAnn Reynolds, External Communications
JoAnn Reynolds, External Communications
The Calgary Foundation‘s Community Engagement Associate, the ever helpful Julie Black, brought greetings from Water for Riley’s major donor to date.
Julie Black, Calgary Foundation
Julie Black, Calgary Foundation
Myra Miller, Major Gifts Officer, and Kara Tersen, Director of Philanthropy + Communications, were the guiding hands behind the scenes.
Kara Tersen, Director of Philanthropy + Communications
Kara Tersen, Director of Philanthropy + Communications

Myra Miller, Major Gifts Officer

Myra Miller, Major Gifts Officer

And then, the big reveal:
Students learned The Calgary Foundation awarded its Neighbours Grant to ACAD on Water for Riley’s behalf. With high fives, applause and fist bumps, students reacted in what they later described as “elation” at the recognition of their efforts. When they lined up in front of the designs pinned to the wall, it was, well, elation for us too.

Here are the student designers, elated, and then in front of their creations.

Students in 3D Object Design class react to Calgary Foundation award
Students in 3D Object Design class react to Calgary Foundation award

designers & designs

The student designers pose proudly in front of the prints of their unique designs

The news gets better: future showcases for the student designers’ impressive talent

Water for Riley has four or five, possibly six, display venues in the new year. The displays will give everyone a chance to see and interact with the designs, and leave comments.

Watch this blog for announcements on the dates and locations. Don’t wait for that  before getting involved with Water for Riley.

Be part of it. Join the movement; help Riley Park attain a public drinking fountain, for future generations. Click the button to donate to make donate buttonthis wonderful, artistic drinking fountain become reality. Specify your support is for Water for Riley project.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.





T’is the season to believe in magic and success

When we first floated the idea of community-building around an ACAD and SAIT student design challenge we didn’t predict how engaging this drinking fountain project would become. In fact, we weren’t sure of anything. Expectation management is a way to avoid disappointment and we madly managed our expectations. We needn’t have worried.

There’s not words to convey how appreciative we are for all the moral support and hours of volunteer work put into the project so far. Fundraising is always an issue, and yet, we believe.

What have we accomplished so far to ensure the drinking fountain will get planted in Riley Park? Let’s chart the progress:

  • Our student designers put their artistic hearts, souls connected to nature, and creative brains into incredible designs.
  • The jury of anonymous professionals are so very qualified to select a design that will be a showpiece attraction for our much loved and historic park.
  • IBI Group is standing by to offer expertise to the jury so that the fountains are reliable, affordable, sustainable and feasible.
  • The administrations and staff of the three neighbouring learning institutions – Hillhurst School, SAIT and ACAD – are collaborating and engaging students together and with the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA), we think for the first time.
  • The residents of Kensington area are working with us to showcase the designs and get community feedback.
  • Our charity partners, Parks Foundation Calgary and This is My City Art Society shepherd us through the paperwork of grant applications and fundraising.
  • Talented markitgirlz designed the logo and website, other locals connected the project with Kensington BRZ.
  • Local businesses are cheering us onward. We are indeed a small village in the larger community.
  • Staff in City of Calgary Departments – notably Parks and Heritage – have done everything possible to clear the way for the fountain, once constructed, to be planted, turned on, and taken into the city’s inventory.
  • A local fabrication company stepped up to work with us in constructing the fountain once we have a final design.
  • Everyone we approach offered to help publicize, and we hope anyone reading this hits a forward or social media button to help more.

Yes, we have a lot of work to do, especially in raising money, before we succeed in constructing and planting the fountain in late summer next year.

Will we be successful? With your help, yes. Please click the button to donate through the Parks Foundationdonate button, and specify your support is for Water for Riley.

We believe.

Are you part of a blue community?

What is a blue community?

Blue Communities believe water belongs to everyone and thus everyone has responsibility to care for it through: “reasonable use, equal distribution and responsible treatment in order to preserve water for nature and future generations.”

What is the water commons framework?

It starts with a commitment to three actions.

1. Recognizing water as a human right.

2. Promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and waste water services.

3. Banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events.

How can you participate in bluing our community?

When we started Water for Riley we hadn’t heard of the blue community initiative. The more we learn, the more we find we’re part of a growing awareness about water and movement to create beautiful public drinking fountains.

Be part of it. Join the movement, help Riley Park go blue. Click the button to donate through the Parks Foundation
donate buttonand specify you support Water for Riley; tax receipts issued, to make this wonderful, artistic drinking fountain become reality.

We invite everyone to participat as a volunteerorganizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.


Apparently we’re part of a new movement

Robert McKercher, a local supporter of our project, sent a link to this wonderful story of the history of public drinking fountains.

It appears there’s a movement to bring back public drinking fountains. That the City of Calgary is our supporter puts it ahead of NYC. So great. And, we upped the stakes with the student art challenge to design the drinking fountain for Riley Park. Even greater.

Here’s some quotes from that website.

“There are small movements happening to restore the public drinking fountain to its former glory. For example, a design group in New York called Pilot Projects is hoping to install 100 new drinking fountains in the city.  They’re still trying to convince the city to partner with them on the project.”

The podcast and article on the website 99 Percent Invisible, includes  the history of public drinking fountains, and new community initiatives.

Fountain Drinks

“On April 21st, 1859, an incredible thing happened in London and thousands of people came out to celebrate it. Women wore their finest clothing. Men were in suits and top hats, and children clamored to get a glimpse…of the very first public drinking fountain. The fountain was used by thousands of people a day.”

Design a drinking fountain and history will remember you. Here’s two more examples:

Henry Rosenberg honoured for drinking fountain designs in Galveston, Texas.
Henry Darcy, honoured for drinking fountain design, Dijon, France.

Be part of it. Join the movement; help Riley Park attain a public drinking fountain, for future generations. Donate through the Parks donate buttonFoundation to make this wonderful, artistic drinking fountain become reality. Click the donate button and specify your donation is in support of Water for Riley project.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 or email your questions, and your contact information.

Location for the Riley Park drinking fountain

Map of location

Late spring or early summer, 2019, we hope to have a beautiful, artistic drinking fountain installed in Riley Park.

Its location is near the heavily used playground, picnic tables and new band stand. It isn’t so near the bandstand as to interfere with concerts. There is enough space around it for other activities.

What do you think?


Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for The Water for Riley Project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

Seeking jury member to represent the community

We need community representatives on the jury.

It could be you.

We’ve made significant progress towards a drinking fountain for Riley Park. One task is to constitute a jury to select the “winning” design from approximately two dozen submissions.

How exciting are the designs so far? 

Five volunteers attended Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD) to hear 19 students present their original, creative fountain designs. Our expectations were reasonable. After all, these were students, not professionals or experts. However, the spectacular quality and amazing creative variety blew us away.

Who do we need as a jury member? 

We seek a community resident who understands the needs and sensibility of our community and who uses our wonderful Riley Park.

What’s involved in volunteering as a jury member? 

It’s a three day commitment between 31 March and 31 May, 2016. You will spend one day reviewing and making notes on all the design submissions in preparation for the jury’s meeting in round one.

How will the process work? 

Round one considers the rankings and selects the top three (minimum) to five (maximum) for professional technical feedback from, for example, an engineer and landscape architect at IBI Group. After that review from a technical stand point, IBI Group experts will return the designs with feedback and suggestions.

During round two, the jury will meet to consider that expert technical feedback and use the suggestions to select which design will be built for Riley Park. All submissions will be ranked using a matrix that grades how well the design meets community, historical, environmental needs and other criteria.

How to put your name forward as a potential jury member.

Please send an email to with one paragraph (250 words) explaining the reasons you want to be on the jury and what personal qualities and credentials you would contribute to the decision-making process. The deadline to submit your name, or someone else’s (with their permission please), is Dec. 31, 2015.

How else can you be involved?

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Contact us

Donations, tax receipts issued, can be made through the Parks Foundation donate buttonCalgary. Click the button and please specify you support Water for Riley.

 logo final

Why is a drinking fountain important for Riley Park?

Background to the project

Our much-loved Riley Park has lots to offer visitors. It also lacks basic facilities like drinking water and toilets in its most heavily used areas near the playground, picnic tables, and new bandstand.

Facilities were identified as an unfunded priority for both the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association and the City of Calgary Parks Department. That means it’s officially known the services are needed, and there’s no public money allocated now or in future budget cycles.

What are the benefits to date?

Once this close-knit community saw a need and opportunity we mobilized around a vision of a unique, functional, public art fountain. A group of committed volunteer residents started an exciting multi-institution collaboration with collective beneficial impacts.

We instituted a SAIT and ACAD student challenge to design a drinking fountain that reflects the heritage values of one of Calgary’s oldest districts, and aesthetic values of Riley Park’s gorgeous flowerbeds, and athletic values of the cricket pitch, playground and pool. Participating students have taken ‘ownership’ of their park and their fountain.

We already see the benefits even before the fountain’s design is selected. All the learning institutions are now engaging with each other and the community for the first time. The designs will be publicly displayed, giving student talent a showcase. IBI Group, formerly a local business until it recently relocated its office, has agreed to donate part of its services to provide engineering oversight. The Calgary Foundation provided the first money in and we’re fundraising for the balance.

How can you be involved?

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Contact us To donate through donate buttonthe Parks Foundation Calgary, click on the button. Please specify the project you support is Water for Riley.


The collective impacts are bigger than drinking water

It isn’t just about water

Our belief that Riley Park, a jewel in Calgary’s urban green inventory, deserves a beautiful drinking fountain as a funded priority is based on five crucial principles:

  1. Health: Active users of Riley Park currently must leave if they’re thirsty, or bring bottled water, or sweet or caffeinated drinks.
  2. Environment: We find disposable cups and bottles discarded in the trash or bushes, and littering the fence line. It’s an unsustainable waste of resources.
  3. Community building: The message the project sends is the community cares, with a drinking fountain that’s both community-based and accessible to all. This project is entirely community driven and managed.
  4. Economic well being of Kensington BRZ and local businesses: Attractions attract. The BRZ works hard to make our community a visitors’ destination. An artistic drinking fountain supports that goal.
  5. Other collective benefits of this project to our community and the city include:
    • connect people to place, encourage eyes on the street,
    • increase energy for volunteerism,
    • make everyone stewards of their park,
    • facilitate the enjoyment of nature in a dense urban space, increase awareness of our urban environment,
    • knowledge that Riley Park is a designated historic resource,
    • improved access to outdoor activities thereby improving quality of life and health,
    • reduction in waste and litter as water bottles can be refilled,
    • expand community ownership to students who had not ventured down the hill into Riley Park until this project,
    • crime reduction with families in the park,
    • the energy of community engagement inspiring students to be problem solvers, and
    • the thrill of design replacing a concrete block mentality.

Be part of the excitement. Please volunteer, donate or email us with questions. To donate donate buttonthrough the Parks Foundation Calgary, please click the button. Specify the project is Water for Riley.

Students designing drinking fountain for Riley Park

Students astonished and delighted Water for Riley with the variety and creativity of drinking fountain designs.

Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, five members of Water for Riley watched 19 ACAD students present their designs. And we aren’t done yet. More student designs are expected.

Water for Riley community: Sally (This is My City), Connor (Place2Give), Michelle (City of Calgary), Julie (The Calgary Foundation)
Water for Riley community: Sally (This is My City), Connor (Place2Give), Michelle (City of Calgary), Julie (The Calgary Foundation)
Students present their designs to their classmates and instructor, Kerry Harmer
Students present their designs to their classmates and instructor, Kerry Harmer

Any one of the designs we saw would enhance beloved and heavily used Riley Park. We don’t envy the jury of professionals who will have to choose the winning design.

Water for Riley is nurturing compounding, positive spin offs

The students will experience additional constructive feedback on their work, will have exposure for their talent they would not otherwise have, and three neighbouring learning institutions are now collaborating with the community in new ways. The project will end when the fountain is turned on, and the relationships will continue.

Students met with City Parks staff in Riley Park on a September research trip, which informed and inspired their designs.

students & RP sign

students on tree

To help make Water for Riley and the students’ dream become reality, please support the drinking fountain in Riley Park. Donations can be made through the Parks Foundation Calgary. Specify the donation is for Water for Riley.

Email us or phone 403 862 1923 with questions or to volunteer.