✅ Transit garage honoring namesake operator now complete

Construction of the 700,000 square-foot-plus Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage and surrounding area is now marked done. 

“Construction of Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage is complete and we are looking forward to seeing it in service with buses coming and going, getting Edmontonians where they want to go,” said Jack Ashton, Acting Director of Facility Infrastructure Delivery.

Making the move

Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage, named after Edmonton’s first female bus operator, replaces the 50-year-old Westwood Transit Garage. 

Kathleen Andrews, Edmonton’s first female bus driver (City of Edmonton)

As staff move to the new garage, Kathleen Andrews will become the new workplace for City transit operators, technicians and support staff. The buses will move too, 275 of them. The relocations will be coordinated to minimize disruption to daily operations. 

Here’s more on the unique features of this new garage and the historical site it’s set on.

Bus entrance on northeast side of building (City of Edmonton)

Electric buses

Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage will be home to the City’s newest additions to the fleet—electric buses. Modifications to the design for a typical transit garage are being made to accommodate the infrastructure needed for electric buses, which include a reinforced platform to bare the weight of the buses, an additional emergency generator and charging stations. The roof is reinforced to support future installation of solar panels. Supplemental power from the solar photovoltaic panel installation would then be used to power the charging stations for the electric buses.

Test electric bus in Centennial Transit Garage (City of Edmonton) 

Recycled rain water

Construction of the LEED Silver Certified building started in July 2016. The roof was designed to collect rainwater, which is held in a 1.5 million-litre cistern in the basement. That’s equivalent to 7,500 household rain barrels of water. Recycled rain water will be used to wash the buses. 

Smokestack of history

The new transit garage is built on a site of historical significance to Edmonton’s meatpacking industry. One visible reminder is the iconic 12-storey smokestack on Fort Road just north of Yellowhead Trail. Restoration of the terracotta bricks on the municipally designated smokestack was part of the project and involved a careful process that took four months. 

An area around the smokestack was excavated to showcase a portion of  the original foundation of the Canada Packers facility. These ruins and the smokestack will be incorporated into a park area with interpretive signage documenting the history of the site and the nearby industries.

Smokestack scaffolding (City of Edmonton)
Restoring terracotta bricks (City of Edmonton photo database)

Canada Packers foundation ruins (City of Edmonton)

Canadian art

More than 3,300 Edmontonains participated in an online survey to provide feedback on the concepts presented by six shortlisted artists for the Transit Garage. The finalist, Thorston Goldberg, created a piece called 53°30’N, which was commissioned by the Edmonton Arts Council through the Percent for Art Program. The art piece is a collection of five stainless steel installations that illustrate the shape and features of mountain landscapes from locations at the same latitude as Edmonton (53°30’N). These five areas are Mount Chown (Alberta), the crater of Mount Okmok (Umnak Island in the Aleutians), Zhupanovsky Crater (Kamchatka, Russia), an unnamed landscape near Dacaodianzi, Heilongjiang Sheng (China) and Mweelrea (Connaught, Ireland). 

53°30’N by Thorston Goldberg (Edmonton Arts Council)
53°30’N by Thorston Goldberg (City of Edmonton)

The second artwork, to be located inside the building, will be a portrait called Kathleen Andrews, First Lady of Transit. The project surrounding it included extensive research on Kathleen Andrews and Edmonton in 1978. Research included interviewing her daughter Lisa Andrews, searching the Edmonton photo archives, researching online, visiting the Centennial ETS Garage to view and photograph buses from the 1970s in its collection and studying CBC television interviews featuring Kathleen Andrews. 

The portrait is now complete and will be installed in the New Year.

More information about these art installations and Edmonton’s Public Art Collection can be found at edmontonpublicart.ca