The extravagance of the roaring 1920s still thrive throughout murals, underground passageways, and glittering lights lining Main Street in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The old glamorous look of our “Little Chicago” is what makes it home. The structures of The Jazz Age were build to last. However, creaking windows and aching floorboards are sucking the life out of old heating systems, and this tired architecture taking a toll on our environment.
Today, The City has an active Environmental Advisory Committee that operates on the mandate to plan and coordinate environmental education and resources. Setting in stone a “Municipal Green Plan,” they took action to outline important aspects to achieving a more environmentally friendly community. The keys points are:
1) Development of a policy lens which, sets sustainability and environmental standards to which future city policiesprojects and developments must be accountable. This policy lens will incorporate objectives of the green plan as further listed below.
2) Carbon (Greenhouse) emission reductions to be achieved through energy conservation measures, public, pedestrian and bicycle transportation options and promotion of alternative energy sources for household and industrial energy needs.
3) Sanitary land-fill reductions through community-wide reduction and recycling of fiber, plastics, metal and construction materials and the composting of natural organic wastes.
4) Promotion and planning of toxin-free green-spaces for community recreation access, gardening and wildlife habitat.
5) Greener housing options through higher energy conservation standards in new and existing housing and higher residential density levels in new developments including a priority response to the acute shortage of multiple unit apartments and townhouses.
6) Water quality improvements through the reduced toxins in the watershed and water conservation through promotion of recycled rainwater and xeriscaping practices for lawns and gardens.
After speaking with Don Mitchell, the City Council member who plays the most active role in the goal towards gaining a greener environment, I was excited to learn about one specific project he mentioned.
The Grand Hall Hotel is a prime example of the unique character born through our city’s history and living in the walls that make up this town. Originally built in 1927, it remained open until 1989, as a bustling hotel. Today, it is a Phoenix rising from the ashes under the wise hands of Alvin Beug, the project manager in charge of renovating the structure.
In an article on the project written by Lee Davis, different members of the construction team speak about the potential they saw in the building. This team took a look at the architecture and understood it withheld the kind of style that doesn’t exist in todays society- motivating their decision to protect the character and original structure of the Hotel.
As thick coats of paint were washed away, original, deep, dark wood was revealed. The beauty of the workmanship was brought back to life in a modern, eco-friendly style. Working with existing windows and beams caused the complete re-wiring and plumbing to be a challenge, but a challenge worth taking. These extra measures are the stepping stones into proving to our community that hard work pays off, and we do not have to lose the unique personality in our structures to create a more Green Building. Although fascinating new technologies such as Tiocoat flat roofs promote a cooler earth courtesy of a white painted roof, I believe we must still respect and reward minor adjustments projects such as The Grand Hall Hotel are making to improve old spaces.
The Grand Hall Hotel is the first structure in Moose Jaw to have geothermal heating and cooling with over one hundred wells in the basement to extract power from heat stored in the Earth. Amazing!
It’s safe to say South Central Saskatchewan is on its way to a greener existence! Proud to have this beautiful example of a Green Project in our community, I hope to see future handymen following the footsteps of Alvin Beug in the development and creation of additional Green Buildings to admire in our prairie region.