I took a little stroll today to check out the grand opening of the Millennium Library Park. I didn't stick around to listen to the Mayor and the Premier and Minister Vic Toews speak, because I don't really care what they have to say, but I grabbed a cup of coffee and had a look around.
It really is quite a nice space, at least all clean and new like it is, however it's very surprising that the water features are already overgrown with weeds...
I mean ... how does that happen? Good grief. This pesticide ban has to be reversed!
The turn out for the event was pretty good. If a crowd like this could assemble every day, it would be quite the people-watching place. Unfortunately on the average day I would expect to see a somewhat sparser and less well-dressed crowd than this one.
That's the thing about public spaces ... unless you have a high density of tourists or employed people in the area, these open public spaces can backfire by creating unsafe dead zones. But this is not a new public space .. it is a redesign of an existing and less safe public space, so I'm all for it. The redesign of Central Park worked very well, and hopefully this one will too.
The talk of the opening was the half-million dollar "emptyful" artwork. Love it or hate it or think it's a waste of money, the art work/sculpture/fountain thingy has one thing going for it: mist. On a hot day like today, the "fog" that the thing produces is really quite refreshing. Although the vast majority of it drifts well over your head and dissipates into the air, cooling nothing but a few insects and perhaps the ever-present Higgs boson particle, if you walk directly in front of it you do get a refreshing spritz.
Aside from the cost of the fountain, the park put a pretty big dent in our wallets. Just how big is uncertain, as officials have been reluctant to talk, however we can get an idea ... The park was origianly budgeted at $2.1 million, with another 1.7 added later for a new budget of $3.8 million. (Source) This figure is repeated on Christian Cassidy's July 2010 blog post here, but the link directly above goes to an updated web page that shows $7.4 million! Maybe that 100% budget overrun is why the officials didn't want to talk about it. The finally tally .... we'll probably find out sometime.
What would be great is if there were direct access to this park from the Human Bean café inside the library, so you could buy your coffee and walk out onto it like a giant patio. Minor quibble though. It still may be a pleasant place to park your butt or look around on a coffee break.