Calgary council committee votes to spend $15.5M on Fort Calgary, Glenbow Museum upgrades

A Calgary council committee voted Tuesday to allocate $15.5 million to help pay for the planned revitalization of the Glenbow Museum and for renovations and an expansion at Fort Calgary.

The priorities and finance committee voted 7 to 1 to redirect funds from the province’s Cultural Municipal Sustainability Initiative. The money was originally intended for four other projects, including a proposed performance space in Symons Valley and a project at the historic Northwest Travellers Building on First Street S.E.

In a report updating the status of the city’s strategy to revitalize the downtown, administration recommended council instead prioritize funding the Fort Calgary and Glenbow projects since they likely can be completed more quickly and would be a boost for Calgary’s struggling core.

If city council approves the plan next week as passed by the committee, $4.5 million would be earmarked for Fort Calgary and $11 million for the Glenbow Museum.

The Glenbow revitalization project is projected to include the removal of the existing cladding to connect it better with the streetscape, renovations on every floor of the 55-year-old building, the addition of exhibition space, and tackling decades of deferred maintenance.

Last year, the province pledged $40 million for the project.

The city pegs the full cost of the renovation at $120 million.

The proposed improvements at Fort Calgary include a new museum building to replace the existing interpretive centre and renovations to the existing barracks building that would increase the number of school classes that can be accommodated by 50 per cent.

“It’s not that those other projects aren’t important, but the money’s been parked for a really long time and they’re not really ready to go, where we have two projects that just needed a little bit more so that they can actually get going, create jobs and build,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

City administration said the redirection of funds will not affect the allocation of $7.5 million toward Calgary Opera’s planned community arts centre on the Stampede grounds.

It’s slated to include a 400-seat performance space and be the administrative home for Calgary Opera as well as a rehearsal and costume design space.

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