Future of Calgary Courthouse

Status of new or continuing risks to heritage sites

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Future of Calgary Courthouse

Postby LauraGrace » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:32 am

Province mulls future use of former Calgary courthouse
CBC News, August 15 2012

The Alberta government is still trying to figure out what it should do with Calgary's historic — but empty — Court of Appeal building.

The province owns the building located on Seventh Avenue in the heart of the downtown.

The Court of Appeal moved out in 2001 after toxic mould was found.

The Alberta government says the mould has been cleared up but the building has been sitting completely empty with locked front doors and curtained windows for the last five years.

Tracy Larsen with Alberta Infrastructure said they are reviewing possible uses for the building.

"It is a provincial historic resource so any proposed changes would need to be in keeping with the standards and guidelines for the conservation of historic places in Canada," she said.

Calgary's historian laureate Harry Sanders says the old courthouse remains important.

“Having an old building present in our lives reminds you that this is a city that's been here for a long time,” he said.

There's been talk the building might house the law society, law library or legal aid and similar legal services — but the province won't say what it wants to happen or when.

No deadline has been announced for the completion of the provincial review.

Link here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/s ... ml?cmp=rss
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Postby LauraGrace » Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:05 am

Former grand sandstone courthouse set for rebirth
By Jason van Rassel, Calgary Herald August 17 2012

It has been vacant for more than a year, but provincial officials said one of downtown Calgary’s remaining sandstone buildings will once again have a purpose.

Toxic mould forced the Alberta Court of Appeal from its former home at 530 7th Ave. S.W. in 2001, but the building has since undergone a lengthy multimillion-dollar remediation.

Courthouse No. 2 — as it’s known in historical terms — temporarily housed offices for the company that built the Calgary Courts Centre across the street, but the provincially owned building has been vacant since May 2011.

“The government is still reviewing the building and possible uses for it,” Alberta Infrastructure spokeswoman Tracy Larsen said.

There’s currently no timeline for when the government will make a decision on a new use for the building, which costs an estimated $154,000 a year to operate while it sits vacant.

Although the government wouldn’t specify what options it’s considering, returning the Alberta Court of Appeal appears unlikely in the near future: the province currently pays $1.3 million a year for a leased space in the TransCanada office tower at 450 1st St. S.W.

Larsen said the Court of Appeal’s lease doesn’t expire until 2018.

Courthouse No. 2 opened in 1914 and was home to Calgary’s seat in the Supreme Court of Alberta until 1962.

The building housed the Alberta Court of Appeal from 1982 to 2001.

“It’s the second courthouse in Calgary, but it’s the oldest surviving one,” said Harry Sanders, Calgary’s historian laureate.

Courthouse No. 2 is also the last of three grand sandstone buildings that once stood on the same block, Sanders said: the city’s first courthouse, built in 1888, and a land titles office have long since been demolished.

In addition to its judicial function, Courthouse No. 2 has been a museum. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was the former location of the Glenbow Museum; in the early 20th century, it housed the Calgary Natural History Society’s collection in the basement.

One Calgary commentator said the building’s past as a public exhibit space could be inspiration for its future.

“Make it a place that’s alive,” said Richard White, an urban strategist and former executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association.

The building could house a gallery for drawings or crafts, or maybe act as a Calgary annex to the Edmonton-based Royal Alberta Museum.

“We don’t celebrate our history enough, and the building lends itself to a historical purpose,” White said.

The building has been designated a provincial heritage resource, meaning whatever purpose the government finds for it will be subject to rules designed to preserve its historical character.

“Any kind of development on the site or with that facility must be within the national standards and guidelines,” Alberta Culture spokesman John Tuckwell said.

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Seniors+st ... z23oevmfhZ
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