EDMONTON – The penthouse suite, dubbed the Sky Palace, was just a small part of the $400-million redevelopment of the Federal Building in downtown Edmonton, but it became a symbol of the perceived entitlement for a Progressive Conservative dynasty that reigned in Alberta for more than four decades.
As of Jan. 1, the suite officially opened for business, but with a much different purpose than originally planned.
“I have to say, there was a lot of curiosity built around Sky Palace,” Cheryl Oates, Premier Rachel Notley’s communications director said. “Obviously, in opposition, we didn’t see this floor.”
The suite is only accessible from the governing party’s 10th floor, and was originally designed to be a private residence for PC Premier Alison Redford and her young daughter. There’s a rooftop patio, large areas meant to host dignitaries, and two small bedrooms that have been turned into cramped – and for the most part unused – meeting rooms.
“If you have the choice between a boardroom or a bedroom with a table in it, you’re going to choose the boardroom,” Oates said.
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The Sky Palace became a big political problem for the former PC government, but the opposition Wildrose Party says there are a number of physical problems with the building as well.
“We have no privacy here when we talk to various groups,” Tany Yao, MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, said, pointing to a lack of soundproofing in offices.
“We have a lot of confidential meetings, we have to respect people that come in and have issues that they want to bring forward to us,” he added.
Soundproofing is one of the problems Alberta Infrastructure worked to address when MLAs started moving into the building.
“There’s always post-occupancy work once we get into a building and see how it operates,” Sharon Lopatka, a spokesperson with Infrastructure, said.
Other issues included problematic soap dispensers, slippery floors, and a slow leak from the living wall that runs throughout the building.
“They drained the pools, they went in and looked at the liner, they looked at some of the equipment in there and they did find a leak,” Lopatka said.
The repairs did not increase the final cost of the building’s renovation.
WATCH: Tom Vernon gets a tour of the Sky Palace