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