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Calgary's Old City Hall refurbishment may start next year

Project expected to take five years

Calgary's Old City Hall was built with a sandstone exterior and first used in 1911. The sandstone has reached the end of its lifespan.

Metro File

Calgary's Old City Hall was built with a sandstone exterior and first used in 1911. The sandstone has reached the end of its lifespan.

City councillors will have to find new office space in the next year if plans to restore Old City Hall go ahead.

A report from city administration going before the Land and Asset Strategy Committee on Thursday recommends city council approve the Historic City Hall Rehabilitation Program.

The Old City Hall building was inaugurated in 1911 and remains in use to this day. The sandstone exterior is the main issue with the building.

In September of 2014, parts of the exterior fell off, creating safety concerns for citizens.

The project is currently budgeted at $34.1 million. The report notes that repairing an old building is very different from building new. Materials and specialized tradespeople can be difficult to find.

Coun. Shane Keating thinks the building needs to be saved from a historical perspective, but he wants to make sure alternative building materials are explored.

“Sandstone at one time was considered to have a 100-year life, and I would hate to put $34 million dollars into this building without preserving it somehow or doing something better.”

Keating said there are techniques to use limestone – with a construction lifespan of about 300 years – in a way that looks exactly like sandstone.

Coun. Druh Farrell said the money for City Hall has been allocated, and she doesn’t see any other option besides pushing ahead with repairs.

“It has to happen,” she said. “City Hall is in critical condition. We made a decision and found the funding – it’s fully funded. The costs will just continue to go up the longer we wait.”

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