Doors open for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Calgary buildings

Take a tour of water treatment plants galleries and more

When Calgary organizations opened their doors to the public for the first time last year to provide a glimpse of their inner workings nobody knew quite what to expect. Still the inaugural Doors Open YYC event was a success with approximately 16000 people and 30 venues participating.

This year Alyssa Berry of the Doors Open YYC marketing committee says the organizers and hosts have a better of idea of what the guests are looking for such as guided tours talks and hands-on experiences. “We’re kind of catering the programming a little bit more” she adds.

For example from September 27 to 29 not only can people get a sneak peak at places like the new KidSIM Simulation Centre a 3600-square-foot facility providing pediatric simulation training at the Alberta Children’s Hospital that will open later this fall but they will also get a behind-the-scenes tour showing how the equipment works and a chance to try some of it for themselves.

Doors Open events are held in cities throughout the world to allow people free access to architecturally historically culturally and socially significant buildings. In Toronto the event started in 2000 and now involves about 600 venues and two million visitors annually. Doors Open YYC launched last year with some start-up funding from Calgary 2012 and this year’s event is supported in part by Alberta Culture Days. Berry says the total number of venues participating has stayed about the same with some new sites taking the place of others but the volunteer-run association believes “there’s a lot of room to grow” in the future.

“I think our relationship with the city is a little stronger” says Berry. “There are more city facilities this year and a few more cultural centres this year as well.”

Two of the more popular venues last year were the city’s traffic management centre and Victoria Park bus barns which Berry says are places people know about but don’t necessarily understand or think about. She adds that this year the committee was excited to add the Glenbow Water Treatment Centre to that list.

“The city being able to open up all these off-limits places sort of lends itself to people better understanding what the city does where the taxpayers’ money goes” says Berry. “So when you flush the toilet you don’t have to think about where that goes.”

Some of the other highlights include a scavenger hunt at the Esker Foundation aquatic insect studies at Ralph Klein Park a chance to design a space at DIRTT Environmental Solutions and guided tours at three historic cemeteries.

All the venues are open free of charge but some require pre-registration. A complete list of venues and programming is online at doorsopenyyc.org.

Doors Open YYC runs from September 27 to 29 at various venues.