Urban parks, community, and water: life extenders

The continuing saga of Water for Riley (W4R)

W4R is pleased to report that Heavy Industries has now assigned a Project Manager. On November 8, 2018, Amy Ghalambor and Michelle Reid meet with W4R at the proposed installation site.

Michelle Reid, City of Calgary, and Amy Ghalambor, Heavy Industries Project Manager, meet in Riley Park to discuss logistics at the drinking fountain site.

The stamp of approval on the project’s fabrication gets closer with each meeting and discussion about design. There are still complications to work out, and Amy is committed to finding solutions.

W4R in the news

As well as the interview on Global Calgary TV, Nov. 25th, W4R volunteers appeared at City Hall Nov. 26th, to speak in support of the Parks Foundation Calgary’s funding.

Today, Nov. 27th, Audrey Neveu, CBC Vidéojournaliste / reporter, interviewed W4R volunteers.

Audrey and Gena Rotstein (Karmaandcents.com) had a great discussion about the non-profit sector, fundraising, and finding solutions to social issues.

The story will be aired sometime early in December.

Audrey toured the site where Riley Park’s drinking fountain will be installed.

People need nature and parks for many reasons

It’s been a long process since the project began in April, 2015; much longer than the volunteer committee imagined. Those five principles, articulated November 20, 2015, remind us why the drinking fountain is such a priority. The vision still inspires W4R volunteers.

One of W4R’s five principles is health, as evidenced in new research published in Lancet Planet Health 2017; 1: e289–97, Urban greenness and mortality in Canada’s largest cities: a national cohort study, by Dan L Crouse, et al.

… as the amount of greenery increased, people’s risk of premature death decreased by eight to 12 per cent.

… exposure to and interactions with green spaces are associated with improved psychological wellbeing and have cognitive, physiological, and social benefits…

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.

Completions and complications

Three completions:

Design: Hopefully, you have seen ACAD student Michelle Lazo’s winning design of the drinking fountain for Riley Park, called Reflecting Blooms. Michelle envisioned five blooms, each with a polished drinking bowl on a concrete stem. The five heights were intended to enable access for all thirsts, whether approaching the drinking bowls on paws, wheels or feet.

Plan Assist: The fabricator, Heavy Industries (HI), has almost completed the Plan Assist. HI translates Michelle’s concept into preliminary drawings. Once the City approves the drawings, HI details drawings and a 3D model from which the fountain gets built. Another deliverable of the Plan Assist is the budget for the build. HI figures out the costs from the approved final design. While not as pretty as the Reflecting Blooms concept rendering, this is what the Plan Assist looks like in the preliminary stage:

Contract: The City of Calgary legal staff has almost approved the wording of the installation contract, which will govern the drinking fountain’s delivery to Riley Park for installation in Spring 2019.

So far, so good.

Three complications:

Unanticipated items: The mechanical engineers designing the plumbing determined that the water pressure in the line is too high for a drinking fountain. An expensive device is needed to step down the pressure. This is an unanticipated item that HI is currently sourcing. Also, the concrete pads anchoring the stems will require an engineering stamp and inspection, which is another unanticipated expense that HI is incorporating into the budget. W4R had hoped to be finished with fundraising and now awaits HI’s updated budget.

Accessibility: The original design is straight stems with steel bowls. HI and the City advise that a wheelchair or walker can’t fit under such a configuration. HI is working on an alternate configuration that will make one stem accessible.

Budget: The original concept was for five, staggered heights of functioning stems. If the updated budget exceeds what has been raised in donations, and if no further funds are available from grants or donations, the drinking fountain will have to be reduced in one of two ways.

Cost saving option 1. Build three functioning drinking fountains of concrete and steel, with two non-functioning, ornamental, concrete stems.

Cost saving option 2. Eliminate the ornamental stems, and have three functioning drinking fountains of concrete and steel.

The conclusions:

This is the purpose of the Plan Assist – to work out these issues before the stems are built.

There will be a drinking fountain in Riley Park in the spring, 2019, with a currently unknown number of stems of concrete and steel. Details depend on HI’s updated budget, 3D model, and signed contract between HI and the City Parks Department.

Everyone on the fabrication team is trying hard to construct this project to a limited budget. It’s hard on the volunteer committee, after so many years, to think of having to alter or reduce (or both) the winning design, which was for five elegant stems. However, it’s equally hard to continue fundraising in these challenging economic times.

We welcome ideas.

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.

 

 

 

First concept sketches

The second fabrication step is underway

First, the fabrication team met to share the vision, assign tasks, and ensure everyone understood the project. Now, the project is with the fabricator for design specifications, and the engineers for location and mechanical specifications. Once their drawings have received official stamps (a professional sign off protocol), the building begins.

There were hiccups and surprises

Delays on a few of the many details were noted in a blog post dated 1 August, 2018. A lot of what Water for Riley is doing hasn’t been done quite this way ever before. The whole team is committed to solving the problems, which W4R greatly appreciates.

Celebrating the drinking fountain installation

The best estimate for the drinking fountain installation is Spring 2019. W4R’s excellent partner and major donor, NWHP REIT, is looking forward to co-hosting the opening celebration.

Terry Schmitt, Regional General Manager, NorthWest Healthcare Properties REIT, and Gena Rotstein, Chief Conversationalist, Place2Give Foundation, celebrate the generous donation.

What the Plan Assist does

Here are first sketches that clarify one part of the fabricator’s scope of work. Heavy Industries is the Prime Contractor and endlessly helpful to the W4R volunteers.

ACAD student designer, Michelle Lazo, has a vision of an organic bouquet of Reflecting Blooms rising from the soil of Riley Park.

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.

Riley Park drinking fountain: real & local

The drinking fountain is a local product

Calgary is known for its talents, resilience, and entrepreneurship. The funding, and the expertise that designed, guided, managed, created, planned, and is fabricating the drinking fountain are local.

That means the money is raised and spent in the community. When the installed drinking fountain is celebrated, Calgary, especially the Parks Department, can take a lot of credit.

The drinking fountain is a real product

Water for Riley has made progress after months of effort. The fabricators (Heavy Industries), mechanical engineers installing the plumbing (TLJ), civil engineers (IBI Group,Calgary office), the City of Calgary (Parks Department) and the student designer, have met to check plans, go over designs, solve issues, and review the Risk Assessments.

The teams are coordinating

The experts agreed on many of the details and tasks to be completed:

  • The risk assessment concluded that the depth of the petal relief held the potential for fountain users to get heads or limbs stuck. The artist agreed that the profile of the flower petals be smoothed out as a solution. Also, a brushed finish for the stainless-steel components will reduce the likelihood of reflections.
  • TLJ has presented a mechanical engineering proposal for Heavy Industries to review.
  • TLJ is putting together a preliminary mechanical design and hardware list of the internal components for the drinking fountain.
  • IBI will review the project with City Parks-Water Management Division to confirm the service location in Riley Park, and then IBI will prepare a site servicing plan.

Heavy Industries is working to revise and develop the design and pricing, and will soon provide Water for Riley with a solid plan, budget, and schedule for moving forward!

The funders made it possible

W4R has received community support in various amounts from individuals and donations in kind. As well, generous Calgary Foundation and Government of Alberta grants and a large donation from NWHP REIT, made it possible for W4R to pay for all that’s been achieved.

Tracy Hume and Terry Schmitt
Many thanks to Tracy Hume and Terry Schmidt, who championed the donation from their NWHP REIT Calgary office.

All funds are administered at Parks Foundation Calgary, which is W4R’s fiscal agent.

Heartfelt gratitude to the wonderful Water for Riley team of specialists and donors.

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.

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.

Riley Park’s new bandstand

Thank you, City of Calgary Parks Department

Water for Riley has enjoyed a productive relationship with staff of the City of Calgary Parks Department. From the beginning of the project, Councillor Farrell, Ron Buchan and Michelle Reid understood the vision to bring a student-designed, artistic, functional drinking fountain to Riley Park.

W4R has accomplished so much and it wouldn’t have happened without their support.

Michelle Reid, Councillor Druh Farrell, and Ron Buchan meet with Michelle Vincent, lead W4R volunteer.

Coming soon to Riley Park, again courtesy of Parks Department

For years, the only remnant of the prior bandstand was its concrete footprint, like a dinosaur print preserved in clay.

March, 2017, all that remained of the bandstand in Riley Park was this concrete pad.

Now, the bandstand rises again

April, 2018

A new permanent bandstand on the concrete pad replaces one that Nature destroyed.

Located near the new children’s playground, the bandstand will provide shelter and entertainment. This cluster of activities sorely needs drinking water. The drinking fountain will provide that water to thirsty entertainers and their audiences.

With the playground, activities and the wading pool drawing children and families to Riley Park, a drinking fountain is ever more important. Fortunately, with the help of W4R’s wonderful partners and sponsors, the drinking fountain also draws ever nearer in time.

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 organizer, 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.

 

Calgary winter, 2017-style

The holiday season is here

This is the winter scene that greeted Trail on his morning walk in Riley Park. (Not that there is much winter this December, 2017, as seen in the green background of the +15C record warm temperature.)

Trail’s BFF Jake and he appreciate the holiday greeting from Anonymous Santa

To whoever took the time to make beautiful Riley Park
more festive with big bows this winter, thank you.

 

Season’s greetings and thank you from Water for Riley

Year’s end is a nostalgic time, and Water for Riley isn’t immune from the sentiment. 2017 marked some successes, some set-backs and lots of steps forward we’re proud to share. This year-end is a chance for huge thanks to all who made the drinking fountain in Riley Park manageable and close to reality.

Public art became a contentious issue in Calgary, with pushback from taxpayers and residents about the quality of art installations in public spaces. Water for Riley followed the debate with interest since the drinking fountain will be public art as well as a functional fountain. Water for Riley adhered to a different process than the Public Art Program. All 21 drinking fountain designs were displayed throughout the community in many venues, comments collected, and a professional jury of local residents specifically chosen for their expert credentials and their expertise in the neighbourhood. The transparent process resulted in a design that most residents accept.

Throughout the year’s many meetings, displays, marathon document writing sessions, and fundraising efforts, the organizing committee received and greatly appreciates the excellent guidance and advice from: IBI Group, Ron Buchan and Michelle Reid of City of Calgary Parks Department, The Calgary Foundation, The Parks Foundation of Calgary, Gena Rotstein of Place2Give Foundation, Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, Framed on Fifth, Sunnyside Natural Market, Nulli Identity Management, and Heavy Industries, Sally Truss, Michelle Vincent, Kerry Harmer, ACAD’s Marion Garden, among others. They worked hard to ensure the volunteers managing this grassroots project stayed on track.

To all donors, supporters, partners and friends, very warm greetings for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018, from the volunteers of Water for Riley. See you in person, this summer, at the opening celebration of the drinking fountain in Riley Park.

If you donate to Water for Riley, you will receive a tax receipt from The Parks Foundation Calgary.

 

Autumn fun Riley Park

The weather was so spectacular today, Riley Park was a major attraction.

Here’s a highlight list of uses observed in the brief duration of our dog walk:

  • Quidditch practice – Calgary Kelpies
  • Dog walkers
  • Full children’s playground
  • Acrobatic team practice
  • Community picnic
  • Cricket game
  • Music group
  • Walkers
  • Floral enthusiasts
  • Runners
  • Sunbathers
  • Readers
  • Bikers
  • Frisbee
  • Soccer

All those active people of all ages and ethnicities, and no public water available – YET.

Quidditch Calgary, Team Kelpies
Cricket practice in the Riley Park “bull pen”
University of Calgary soccer team practice in Riley Park’s common area
Last blooms of Riley Park

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 organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

 

Riley Park to have public art

While the Water for Riley volunteer committee took summer vacation, Calgary’s public art policy stayed controversial. W4R followed the debate because the drinking fountain in Riley Park will be public art.

How to recognize public art

The simple test for deciding what is public art: did an artist create it? The drinking fountain is art because an artist designed it. It’ll be in a public space. Ergo; it’s public art.

The unique aspect of Water for Riley is that its designer is a student artist. Michelle Lazo was in her first year at ACAD when she submitted her winning design, Reflecting Blooms. She’s an emerging artist, with many successes already on her resume.

The artist had a vision

Michelle has a special connection to Riley Park, which the jury didn’t know when it selected her design. Michelle, in her acceptance speech, told the crowd that her father worked for Calgary’s Parks Department. “Dad worked there. Now my thumbprint will be there too.”

She grew up going to Riley Park and loved the flowers that inspired her design. She said all the experiences came together, and she felt like she’d come full circle.

“The idea of Reflecting Blooms is to create an area in Riley Park that provides not only a hydrating space but also to engage a whimsical interaction with the sculptures.  The major inspiration for the fountain derived from the beautiful floral beds of Senator Patrick Burns Rock Garden.”

Thanks to Dana for sharing this inspiration in her photos.

Floral gardens in Riley Park. Photo credit Dana, CalgaryPlaygroundReview.com
Floral gardens Senator Patrick Burns garden. Photo credit Dana, CalgaryPlaygroundReview.com

Taste in art is subjective

As a community-based, volunteer driven project, W4R welcomes opinions about the drinking fountain’s design. Some visitors to Riley Park will appreciate and love the winning design, and, obviously, some people won’t. We look forward to being part of the larger civic discussion.

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 organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

Meanwhile, experts on public art comment on the controversy and one such opinion is reproduced below:

City can be a leader in investing in the arts
CALGARY HERALD
Published on: September 11, 2017

Calgary is becoming a world-class city, and art has to be part of our evolution, writes Aritha van Herk:

A part of me understands the perplexity of political candidates confronted with debates about culture, the arts, and how to value creative life here in Calgary. They are running for office, and they think about appealing to voters.

What does the average voter want? Employment, shelter, food, education. A safe city. A welcoming city. A city that can be called home, for home is where our loyalties lie. And in that equation, the arts might seem insignificant.

But there is the crux of Calgary’s future. In our current situation, we must find a way to make our home —this city — a magnet. We need people to come here, bringing their entrepreneurial talent, their intellectual wealth and their investment dollars, or we won’t get out of this rut fast.

Calgary is becoming a world-class city, and art has to be part of our evolution. We have a chance to woo the very best in the world, but we have to offer the best. If we are going to become a city where people choose to stay, enhancing our overall wealth, this is the moment to disrupt our old way of thinking, and step forward, with culture as our lodestone.

Art and culture are compasses of change, measurements of evolving economies and identities. Calgary’s character is historically both risk taking and resilient. As companies and talent adapt and innovate in these challenging times, they look to what a city can offer to collaborate with their own entrepreneurial creativity. With all that we have learned, we are positioned to become a city that leads.

Which is where culture and the arts come in. Why do we need the arts? Because they are the lifeblood of a city’s identity, the quintessential element that makes a place distinctive, a destination, a home. And we have a chance, right now, in these turbulent times, to attract the best and the brightest to bring their optimum talent, advantageous ideas and inventive designs.

Calgary is not now perceived as a competitive creative centre, which is a significant barrier to realizing our goals of a diversified and resilient economy. We must become known as a place of creative ferment, for citizens who encounter the vibrations of creative activity are better able to embrace challenge and change.

The arts contribute to our economy, often invisibly, but palpably. Every dollar invested in the arts returns almost double that amount directly and almost triple in tourism benefits. In Calgary, creative industries employ more than 50,000 citizens, and each year, more than 4,000 students in creative areas graduate with degrees from our world-class institutions.

Creativity is good; we can all agree on that. But a creative city is more than lip service. We need a bold vision for Calgary’s creative future, one that enables Calgary’s artists and arts organizations to lead nationally — and to generate the local jobs needed to retain and attract artistic talent.

Most galling of all is the fact that Edmonton’s arts grants per capita are twice as much as ours.

City hall has faltered in its chance to support the arts appropriately. But that can change: an annual investment equivalent to 0.7 per cent of the city’s budget will allow Calgary to position itself as a national leader in arts investment.

The job of artists is to create. The job of politicians is to govern. The two might seem far apart, but they have the same goal: to make this city a place where the best and the brightest come and stay.

In the upcoming civic election, voters need to remember that, and support candidates who plan to invest in our city’s future, and who know that the arts and culture are more than decoration.

Aritha van Herk is writing on behalf of Creative Calgary.