‘Critical milestone’: Construction on Assiniboine Park’s The Leaf moves ahead after delays


After engineering delays and other issues, Assiniboine Park’s latest building has hit a major milestone.

Beginning construction in 2019, The Leaf’s glass exterior is finally done.

The Leaf will be an indoor garden attraction, featuring plants from around the world—and is to be the centrepiece of Assiniboine Park’s Diversity Gardens.

Completing the building’s shell wasn’t without difficulty. Design issues and seasonal weather delayed crews from finishing the unique sloped roof made from a special transparent ETFE material.

“We are so excited to reach this next critical milestone of getting the roof on,” said Margaret Redmond, president and CEO of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

“We sort of hit a perfect storm over the last two years where we were trying to address the engineering challenges we had with putting the roof on and then, of course, the pandemic hit.”

With the outside now complete, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy is showing off some of The Leaf’s features.

A special diamond-shaped steel tower at its centre will host an 18-metre indoor waterfall.

The Conservancy also noted the building uses eco-friendly technologies like geothermal heating and evaporative cooling.

Keeping with the theme of sustainability, wood from the elm trees chopped down to make room for the building will be used on the walls and glass from the old conservatory, which closed in 2018, will be embedded in the concrete floors.

Concreate inside The Leaf that features glass from the old conservatory that closed in 2018. (Source: Mason DePatie/CTV News)

The crown jewel of the Leaf will be its plants, scheduled to arrive from Florida and California next summer.

“We are focused on the people and the connections between them and the plants. What we want is when you come to visit this facility, you feel part of this. You feel part of the landscape. You are part of this connection,” said Gerald Dieleman, the Conservancy’s senior director of horticulture.

The Conservancy says the Leaf’s next big project is dividing the building into three sections; the tropical biome, the Mediterranean biome and the butterfly garden.

“That’s the next big milestone, to get those interior walls finished and then get the landscaping done and really start to bring these biomes to life,” said Redmond.

With the exterior of the building now done, Redmond said an opening date of late 2022 has now been set.

Assiniboine Park Conservancy said the project will cost around $130 million once completed. 

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