Rejuvenated historic city hall unveiled after $34-million repair job

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Bell added that during the restoration process, workers found some initials carved into stone in the clock tower. Those have been preserved as “part of the fabric of the building.”

Eight city councillors joined Nenshi on city hall steps to mark the building’s latest milestone — while keeping their distance from each other and wearing masks.

Acting deputy city manager Chris Arthurs noted that historic city hall has now been standing through two pandemics. In 1918, Calgarians celebrated the end of the First World War on the building’s steps, with many wearing masks due to the Spanish flu pandemic.

“A century ago, the community gathered during a pandemic to celebrate peace. Today we come together during a pandemic to celebrate the renewal of this important heritage resource that has witnessed so much of Calgary’s history,” Arthurs said.

Council voted in 2018 to move their offices back into historic city hall after they relocated during the renovation process. The building is ready for them to return now, but it’s unclear when they might actually go back, since the pandemic means they and their staff are working from home, and any in-person office needs adequate space for distancing.

Nenshi said he won’t be relocating for now.

“It’s way too small. … With COVID restrictions, should my staff come back, there’s just not enough room.”

First-term councillors like Coun. George Chahal have never worked inside the building, since it was already wrapped up before the 2017 municipal election.

“For me as a child growing up, born and raised in Calgary, seeing this building so many times from the outside — I’ve never seen the inside until I was elected,” he said.

“It would be nice to be here, but we have to keep the consideration of the health and safety of our staff and everybody who works here at the City of Calgary and members of the public.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, centre, and city councillors and officials gather for the official reopening of historic city hall. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

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