CKUA Radio AlbertaIn a recent capital budget meeting this December, the City of Edmonton granted the request by CKUA of $5 million. The funds were requested to offset the difference in the purchase price of their new location in the former Alberta Hotel building and the sale price of their current location at the Alberta Block on 105 Street and Jasper Avenue in Edmonton. “The City’s funding is key to the whole process. We’ll now be able to leverage their support fto secure private and publich sector funding,” reports Ken Regan, the station manager. Now in the “quiet period” of a larger campaign to redevelop the Alberta Hotel location to suit their needs. The current location in the Alberta Block decidedly does not suit their needs as Todd Babiuk makes clear in an April 7, 2011 column in the Edmonton Journal:

 

CKUA’s current location in the Alberta Block can’t welcome the community to hear talented performers who visit the studios. Volunteers with mobility issues or disabilities can’t walk upstairs to watch Monica Miller as she hosts How I Hear It.

The climate-control system, led by the oldest certified working boilers in the province, can’t protect CKUA’s precious -and famous -library.

Recent gas leaks and boiler-room fires in the Alberta Block haven’t made for a stable atmosphere for humans either, but everyone hopes the old advertisement on the side of the building will remain in place.

Regan praised Dub for his efforts to make this complex deal work, for giving up his original idea for the building and for accommodating the particular needs of a modern broadcaster. For his part, Dub is still hoping to build a historic boutique hotel -maybe in Rossdale.

While this is good news for CKUA and for Dub, it’s marvellous news for Edmontonians who’ve been keen to watch the slow progress of the downtown arts and entertainment district.

It’s a subtle bit of urban improvement. A beer or a glass of wine, with Corb Lund playing in the corner, does sound a little like life in our unofficial sister city in Texas.

A special campaign to raise money for the new building will begin next month. Generous benefactors are encouraged to apply. Regan said they hope to move sometime in 2012.

CKUA Radio Alberta Hotel

Alberta Hotel, Jasper Avenue, Edmonton

Babiuk’s colleague in the Edmonton Journal’s business section, Gordon Kent, reported on October 31, 2011 that:

Historic CKUA Radio wants a $5-million city grant so it can move out of its century-old home into the rebuilt Alberta Hotel.

“It’s an oasis of quality in a sea of mediocrity … it’s Edmonton’s gift to Alberta,” board member Sen. Tommy Banks said Monday at council’s community services committee. “Now, councillors, for the first time ever, we need your help.”

The non-profit network needs to leave its longtime headquarters in the Alberta Block, 10526 Jasper Ave., because the building is falling apart, with a flood and fire in the past year.

This threatens the safety of 1.5 million items in the archives and music library amassed the past 84 years by Canada’s first public broadcaster, speakers told the committee.

“Much of this materials is at risk, and many of these materials can’t be found anywhere else,” general manager Ken Regan said.

The organization hopes to move into the Alberta Hotel beside Canada Place next summer, selling its old building to Alberta Hotel developer Gene Dub to help pay for the $17.5-million relocation. Plans call for public performance, library and exhibition space at the new site, along with room available for non-profit groups to rent at less than market rates and restoration of the famous Alberta Hotel bar.

While councillors described the city’s budget as “challenged,” none of them objected to CKUA’s proposal, which city staff have been working on for the past year.

“We build lots of recreational centres,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel, who supported a motion to see how this item can be included in Edmonton’s capital budget which will be discussed Nov. 9. We need to take a look at how to build some of these other things.”

Feedback on CKUA’s move to the Alberta Hotel from members of Connect2Edmonton.com.

 I don’t understand why CKUA as the oldest operating radio station with a long colourful history of serving ALL of Alberta is not seeking Provincial support. For crying out loud it was the only radio station through the 20s and carried the stories of world to Alberta and the achievements of Alberta heroes, adventurers and entrepreneurs through out Albert and into the world. So yes the Province of Alberta, within reason, should be working with CKUA.

And from another C2E member:

They don’t own the Alberta Hotel space yet. I believe the money they need from the city is to cover the difference in value between their current location (Jasper Block) and where they want to move to (the Alberta Hotel). It’s not the physical move that is the main expense. If the city of Calgary were to promise a nice location in their city, what’s to stop CKUA from trucking their gear down the QEII, leaving only the sort of branch office behind that currently exists in Calgary? I shiver at the thought of it…

These reporters will be happy to know that the City of Edmonton did approve CKUA’s request for the $5 million grant.

We still have to work out the details,” reports Ken Regan. “We might not get all the funds at once. Likely the funds will be made available over multiple years, perhaps three? The support from the City give us the credibility with other potential funders that we need to go forward.

CKUA is now actively engaged in securing support from the province and the federal government as well as from major private donors and hopes are to  secure 50 to 70% of this foundational support before they begin to appeal for support from their listeners and a broader audience.

In response to questions I emailed her for this article, Sharon Marcus, director of the  capital campaign writes:

…there is lots to talk about and we are happy to share our dreams and vision for the new building and the opportunities it will give us for meaningful engagement with the citizens of Edmonton and Alberta!  The support from the City came about as our project aligned with a number of City objectives:

1. The City of Edmonton’s “The Art of Living – A Plan For Securing The Future of Arts and Heritage 2008-2018” (p. 8)

…ensuring that culture continues to play a prominent role in shaping the history, destiny and feel of this unique place…  What holds us together are art, culture and heritage, those things that identify us, inspire us, comfort us, move us, motivate us and join us together in our humanity.

2. Building the Quarters

3. Revitalization of Jasper Avenue

When might they be ready to accept funds from their loyal listeners with their cap in hand? My best guess is that it will be between 12 and 18  months. In the meantime, according to Todd Crawshaw, CKUA’s relatively new and always enthusiastic communications manager, they are well on their way to undertaking “one of the biggest changes CKUA has experienced since its inception in 1927. “