Water for Riley’s celebration and farewell

RIP: June 19, 2012 – October 25, 2020

Its purpose complete, Water for Riley is no more

The drinking fountain is installed and dedicated to The City of Calgary, which was Water for Riley’s sole mission and it’s accomplished. You have a last chance to win awesome prizes still, read down for details.

We always said the last task was to party at the drinking fountain. Alas, it could not be in Riley Park because of COVID 19, so we pivoted. On Sunday, October 25, 2020, we held a much scaled down celebration of that success. Water for Riley partnered with the Kensington Business Redevelopment Zone (BRZ) in a public market.

Scaled down and still local

Water for Riley was always hyper local. Our talented team and all the money was raised spent and locally. Water for Riley was founded on the idea of building community and building relationships by building a drinking fountain. Whereas we’d hoped the party for the drinking fountain could be city-wide, complying with health rules meant even the party was local.

As well as vendors the BRZ arranged, Water for Riley hosted its team. Displaying and selling their art were local artists, Framed on Fifth gallery owner and sculpture Hannah White, Artsploration painter, Mary-Leigh Doyle, woodcrafts by Jeff Melnyk and handmade glass bead jewelry maker Karyn Williams.

NorthWest Healthcare Properties, the developer of the Grace Hospital site north of Riley Park, donated a gorgeous, huge gift basket to give away. NorthWest Healthcare Properties employee Rachelle Donaldson volunteered at the market for the day.

Bloco Vivo, the Samba & Maracatu band that practices in Riley Park, brought energy and warmth on a cold day with its performance.

Water for Riley’s biggest hit of the day was the give aways to people who stopped to chat about the drinking fountain in Riley Park and membership in the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA). Water for Riley offered gifts to entice people to join HSCA, and the HSCA offered discounts on memberships. Important to note is that Water for Riley bought all the gifts to give away, the final way it supported local community and business as thanks for all the support the project received.

You still have a chance to win awesome prizes, keep reading for details.

COVID 19 changed what could have been

The event had been scheduled for 13 June, 2020, and we’d booked a full and active day of local celebrities, fun and performances in Riley Park. Then, COVID 19 shut down the parks and public realm. We cancelled and hoped restrictions would be brief. That, obviously, didn’t work out and we had hard decisions to make.

We decided to not wait until 2021, because there’s no guarantee it would be any better or safer. We scaled down the event and accepted that we could not meet Alberta Health Services rules to hold the event in Riley Park.

Last chance for free gifts

Remaining are some coupons Water for Riley bought for free drinks at local shops. In the nice weather predicted for this weekend, we’ll hand those out in Riley Park near the drinking fountain.

In the coming weeks, still in partnership with the BRZ, the final purchased gifts will be given away. The grand prize is a night stay and breakfast at the boutique Hotel Arts Kensington Inn. Purchase your HSCA membership for a chance to win.

Water for Riley has now reported to its donors and presented its final accounting to its HSCA oversight Board, which is the Hillhurst Sunnyside Planning Committee.

It’s done. Thanks for the memories and for the drinking fountain in Riley Park.

Graphic of the Reflecting Blooms drinking fountain by Maddie Wong Selby

See you in Riley Park,

Deborah Sword
Volunteer Project Manager
Water for Riley

Water for Riley’s thank you

Just as the project to build a drinking fountain in Riley Park was delayed, modified and downsized, so too was celebrating the project delayed, modified and downsized. But, in the end, we did it. We held a party that complied with COVID rules.

There are so many people to thank. Let’s start with the three donors that made the celebration possible:

The City of Calgary Ward Community Event Fund,
TD Park People, and Mirza Amiri, Manager of TD Bank and his team in the Kensington Branch.

Outstanding volunteers planned and worked at the event: Lisa Chong, Maddie Wong Selby, Rachelle Donaldson, and Yameen Huq.

Water for Riley had many, many volunteers over its five+ years, especially: Jocelyn Kabatoff, Michelle Vincent, Natalie Bach, and Sally Truss.  We also had many donations from local community members, residents and folks from all over the City who supported what Water for Riley was achieving. We are so grateful.

NorthWest Healthcare Properties, the largest donor to the drinking fountain, supplied employee and star volunteer, Rachelle Donaldson, plus a fabulous gift basket to give away.

Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association and Water for Riley especially thank:

  • Alberta University of the Arts and Kerry Harmer
  • Southern Alberta Institute for Technology
  • The Calgary Foundation and Julie Black
  • Framed on Fifth, Hannah White and Patricia Gustafson
  • Sunnyside Natural Market
  • City of Calgary Water Services and Parks Departments, Michelle Reid and Ron Buchan,
  • Nulli Identity Management and Barb Gosling
  • Hillhurst School
  • Place2give Foundation and Gena Rotstein
  • Parks Foundation Calgary
  • IBI Group

We know the drinking fountain works and Water for Riley saved the first water out of it to douse it instead of champagne. Once we can drink from the fountain, the effort and wait will be worth it.

As written in a prior post, the drinking fountain was 100% over budget and years behind schedule, installed just in time to be unusable because of a global pandemic. Who says irony is dead?

Stay safe, friends, with warm regards and thanks from

The final phase: celebration delayed not done for

Save the date: 24 October, 2020 on Kensington Road

Water for Riley raised money dedicated to celebrating the successful completion of the drinking fountain in Riley Park. Enter COVID-19 and brilliant plans to celebrate big in the park got cancelled.

The three donors supporting the celebration with generous grants kindly allowed us to keep the money until we can again gather in small groups. We thank them so much for believing in Water for Riley and in community that needs a morale boost.

Maddie Wong Selby, Water for Riley volunteer, accepts the cheque from MIrza Amiri, Manager of TD Bank, Kensington Branch.

We adapted to hold smaller events, like yoga in the park. Coming up, Water for Riley collaborates with Kensington Village, the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, and NorthWest Healthcare Properties at a street market on Kensington Road, just south of Riley Park. We can’t confirm the date until the last minute because COVID-19 changes and we might have to adapt yet again.

Maddie Wong Selby designed this invitation and
drew the wonderful graphic of Reflecting Blooms, the drinking fountain in Riley Park

As soon as we know if it can go ahead, we’ll let you know.

The Water for Riley volunteer team sends Thanksgiving and good health wishes.

Mini celebration: yoga in Riley Park

Yoga in Riley Park is a teaser before the grand opening celebration,
now delayed until this fall, when life reopens without restrictions (we hope)

Thanks to the TD Bank, #TDparkpeople and The City of Calgary, Ward Community Events Fund

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

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.See our story in a video http://www.waterforriley.org/2018/07/acad-w4r-video/

Opinion of the design

Community engagement is part of Water for Riley (W4R)

W4R encourages community input. This comment came through this site’s contact page, as well as The Parks Foundation Facebook page. W4R shares it in hopes you will join the discussion.

What do you see in the drinking fountain design, “Reflecting Blooms?

The writer, Dave, raised two main concerns, and gave a compliment:

  1. The drinking fountain design. The city is experiencing an opiate crisis and you are putting a fountain that resembles opium poppy heads in a family friendly park?  Beyond the fact it may trigger addicts, it is terrible metaprograming for the kids. I object to a design that references opiates.

W4R replies: We should all be concerned about opiates. However, not all flowers with petals are opium producing poppies. There are over 50 varieties of poppies, according to https://www.britannica.com/plant/poppy, many looking little like the fountain design aside from having petals.

Nor was opiate-bearing poppy in the mind of the student designer. In her description of the design, she stated she took her inspiration from the floral beauty of the park flower beds, and opiate poppies aren’t planted there, so her design’s intention doesn’t reference opiates.

  1. Shading from the sun. This is the problem with the existing fountain, the water is warm because it is often in direct sunlight.

W4R repliesThe City of Calgary decided on the site for the drinking fountain in Riley Park. The City of Calgary has to connect the fountain to a water line that already exists. Also, the drinking fountain should be accessible to the open areas and playground and the new bandstand for the health of the children and music lovers. Fortunately, lovely mature trees shade the site selected.

And now, Dave’s compliment: I love the idea of fountains in parks. Thank you for this initiative, this is a great opportunity to add value to the community through functional art, just please be mindful of the subconscious message it conveys.

W4R replies: Thank you, Dave, for the insightful comments. We hope this addresses your concern, and are glad you like the idea of a drinking fountain in the park, especially where no potable water source currently exists.

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.

ACAD’s creative W4R story

ACAD captures W4R in video

W4R followed its own unique structure and process. ACAD’s Director, Marketing & Communications, Marion Garden, thought W4R had a great story. She found the right, amazing people to tell it.

W4R’s story is now online

Kenzie Webber

Kenzie WebberACAD‘s talented Digital Content Coordinator,  shaped the story of how W4R brought institutions together, engaged community, and gave students a real-world, client experience.

At several stages, ACAD videographers filmed W4R’s special events. Kenzie features that ACAD footage and this blog’s images in the short video.

Steven Hodges, ACAD‘s Community Engagement Strategist, liaised with W4R volunteers during the editing process.

Please share the link to the video about W4R’s story https://youtu.be/1ZKjAIab3Bs

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 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.



How a great community grows

Why are Water for Riley (W4R) volunteers working so hard to bring a drinking fountain to Riley Park?

Simple answer: Hillhurst Sunnyside (HS) is a terrific community, in every sense of the word community. While the community grows in population, with new developments and densification, it isn’t adding services. W4R aims to add one service to Riley Park, to accommodate the growth in HS residents.

As a member of the Federation of Calgary Communities, our HS community, especially the volunteers, live the “resident-led solutions” motto. W4R is a totally resident led effort.

W4R volunteers too often let social media slide, spending valuable hours on guiding the fabrication of the drinking fountain, dealing with finances, interpreting contract language, and fundraising. Social media fell to the bottom of the to-do list.

Thanks to W4R’s relationship with HSCA, we gratefully piggy back on HSCA social media to have this reach:
HSCA Website Page Views: 6734
Facebook Likes: 1718 increased 20
Twitter Followers: 3589 increased 25
Instagram Followers: 857 increased 25
Newsletter Subscribers: 1936 decreased 7

Social media is important for staying connected to the people who will benefit from the drinking fountain. Here are some interesting statistics about how to connect:

What can you do? Join a local community association for the connections and the other benefits, like discounts at local businesses, taking programs, and making new friends. Better yet – donate to W4R.

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

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

We invite everyone to volunteer. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

To all donors, supporters, partners and friends, thank you from the volunteers of Water for Riley.


Bow to Bluff, an ecosystem approach to nature

Riley Park is part of an ecosystem

In our mostly paved, urban landscape, it’s easy to forget the role of ecosystems in keeping us healthy. In nature, nothing exists in isolation. The health of one part of the ecosystem affects the health of all. On May 27, 2017, you can be part of an historic effort to pull fragmented pieces of land into a more useable, healthy space.

Bow to Bluff has an ecosystem perspective

Citizens saw an opportunity to transform fragmented bits of land leftover from Ctrain construction. The Ctrain tracks disrupt the McHugh Bluff, and chop up 9A Street N.W. streetscapes between SAIT/ACAD/Jubilee Station to Sunnyside Station, and to the Bow River. The citizens’ vision is to turn those neglected parcels and current back alley trails into a walkable, terrific public space.

Leftover bits of 9A St.N.W. after Ctrain construction can be usable public space.

The City of Calgary began working with the citizen group on the Bow (River) to (McHugh) Bluff initiative. Where now are tiny, weed and garbage-filled bits of land, imagine wondrous public spaces from the river, across Memorial Drive, past the Ctrain station, along the elevated tracks, to the top of the bluff.

Join us. Water for Riley will be there.

27 May, 2017, enjoy Kensington, Riley Park, and launch Bow to Bluff.

Water for Riley sits at the base of the McHugh Bluff. The Bow to Bluff initiative will help restore natural health to the ecosystem in which Riley Park is nestled.

Water for Riley works with Parks Foundation Calgary (parksfdn.com) and issues tax receipts for all donations over $10.00. Call 403 862 1923 for more information


Water for Riley presented at Annual General Meeting

Speaking to the bosses in public

Water for Riley has many bosses. At the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 25, most of those bosses were in the room.

Water for Riley presented its successes to date at the HSCA Annual General Meeting

Lisa Chong, Community Planning Coordinator, arranged Water for Riley display at AGM

The Chair of the HSCA Board of Directors, the Executive Director, the Chair of the Community Planning Committee, Councillor Druh Farrell, and the real bosses – residents and members of the community – expressed their approval of the winning design, congratulated student designer, Michelle Lazo, and encouraged the W4R organizing committee to keep going.

HSCA members and Board discussed community sustainability and other important issues

Water for Riley, as a project, fits in the goals and mission of the HSCA and community residents. The drinking fountain aims to achieve the shared community goals of sustainability and accessibility.

Councillor Druh Farrell, centre of front row, spoke about accessibility, development and good planning for growth.

 To stay in touch and receive updates

Follow this Water for Riley blog and on Twitter @waterforriley.

Please contribute to Riley Park’s beautiful drinking fountain project through the Parks Foundation and – at the instructions to seller page – specify that your contribution is for Water for Riley.

To volunteer call 403 862 1923.