New project to grant access through Calgary city hall after hours

Rather than blocking people, adding nine gates at city hall is expected to make it easier for pedestrians to pass through the municipal building after hours.

Since the building opened in 1985, the large blue building on Macleod Trail has been criticized as a barrier for pedestrians trying to go between downtown and the East Village.

Right now, the doors are locked at 6 p.m. weekdays and the municipal building isn’t open normally on weekends.

It means anyone trying to get from Stephen Avenue to the downtown library, the East Village or the National Music Centre after hours must go around the municipal complex.

That situation will improve later this year once nine gates are installed between concrete pillars inside the municipal building’s atrium.

The gates will secure parts of the building while still allowing pedestrians to pass through it.

The executive advisor with facility management at the City of Calgary, Jilian Henderson, said being able to provide that public access will bring the municipal building in line with the hours of the Plus-15 walkway network downtown.

The city says nine new gates will provide two routes through the municipal building, starting this fall. (Supplied by the City of Calgary)

That network is open to the public 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weeknights and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

“Once this project is complete, then citizens will be able to access the atrium and the Plus-15 network will be extended,” said Henderson.

Workers are already installing the first two gates and the project will progress a gate at a time.

“We are doing all the work after hours to minimize any disruption,” said Henderson.

The executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, Mark Garner, is pleased to hear the improved access is coming.

“Anything that improves access is obviously supported by the CDA,” said Garner.

“There’s definite need for access between the east and west parts of downtown.”

The design of the gates themselves is pretty basic. They’re essentially large metal sliding curtains.

Garner said in other cities, the gates themselves can be more artistic or provide interpretation about a building or a site’s history.

While it’s too late to see that incorporated with these gates, he’d like to see the city do what it can do make the route through the municipal building worthwhile for pedestrians.

“Would love to have seen probably a little more artistic influence on it. Maybe that’s still an opportunity. It’s got to be a reason for people to want to go down to city hall, see the gates and then continue their walk through the East Village and over to the Bow and the Elbow (rivers).”

The gates project is expected to be completed by the end of August.

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