Then & Now

Municipal Office: What was once a multiplex now houses Spruce Grove’s City Council

November, 2019

Spruce Grove had rapidly grown between 1950 and 1980 following the success of its grain production. With the development of subdivisions such as Broxton Park and Brookwood in the 1960s and 1970s, more and more families were beginning to move to Spruce Grove and the town found itself in need of more community facilities and services. Luckily, Alberta born architect Douglas Cardinal was ready and willing to start designing a facility that would play a central role in the continual growth and development of Spruce Grove as it transformed from town to city.


In the mid 1970s, the Spruce Grove Public Library board began voicing interest in acquiring a new home. The town’s existing library, which was located in the old town hall, was quickly becoming overrun with popularity. However, the proposal of a new library was met with a fair amount of resistance from the town council and public because of concerns about the cost of building a facility that would house only a library–a non-revenue generating operation.

The library board members did not give up, though. They found that additional town department space was beginning to become a necessity, that a community meeting hall was required, and that there was a shortage of preschool space. As a result, the library board began working towards making the public aware of the need for these amenities and soon enough the idea of a multi-use facility was born.

On November 8, 1979, a plebiscite was held in order to determine if the project would move forward or not. When all was said and done, slightly more than 61 percent of residents who participated in the vote gave their assent to build the $2.3-million-dollar facility. Funding for the project included: $1,115,500 from a debenture bylaw, $482,500 from the province’s Municipal Debt Reduction program, $300,000 from the province’s Major Culture and Recreation grant, and $100,000 from offsite levies. The $500,000 for land costs also came from the Municipal Debt Reduction program.


On September 19, 1981, the official grand opening was held for what was unveiled as the Shenfield Civic Centre, a building that would house Spruce Grove’s public library, engineering department, parks and recreation department, as well as playschool space and the Stony Plain-Lac Ste. Anne Health Unit. The centre was named in honour of Allan Shenfield, whose unmatched devotion to Spruce Grove was represented through his co-founding of the Anglican Church and 4-H Club, his membership of the Serplex Society, Chamber of Commerce, and Joint Facilities Committee, as well as his work with the Northlands Exhibition Board and the Agriculture Society.

Up until the grand opening of the centre, the community was not told what it would be called. Therefore, when Shenfield was invited to participate in the centre’s opening ceremonies, he was very much unaware of the special part he would play. But things suddenly became apparent to him when then Mayor George Cuff announced the name of the $2.3-million-dollar building, saying, “It would honor a man and his family who have served the Spruce Grove area in a volunteer capacity for years.” At that point, a sign labelled the Shenfield Civic Centre was unveiled, and the three-storey building was officially opened.


Nearly a decade later, in October 1990, it was decided that the multi-use facility would become Spruce Grove City Hall. This involved a three-stage plan consisting of the relocation of the Spruce Grove Public Library and the Horizon Stage box office from the Shenfield Civic Centre to King Street Mall; the relocation of all city administrative staff and selected officials’ offices from the old town hall to the Shenfield Centre; and lastly, the expansion of RCMP offices into the space left behind by city staff at the old town hall.

In November of 1991, the council concluded that it would instead first fund a series of renovations to the ground floor of the Shenfield Civic Centre to provide space for family and community support services (FCSS). Once those renovations were complete, the municipal offices would then move in from the old town hall across the street, where the council chambers would
remain, sharing the space with new tenants, the RCMP. While this decision did not thrill all council members, it allowed for the formation of the Spruce Grove FCSS.


In 2002, two of the Shenfield Centre’s tenants, WestView Regional Health Authority, and Evergreen Catholic
Separate Regional Division No. 2 departed the building, leaving the City of Spruce Grove the building’s sole occupant. The city believed the time was right to take a good look at the building, then 20 years old, and how its condition and design were affecting the delivery of satisfying customer service.

After consulting with each and every city department, the council crafted up what it called the Customer Service Enhancement Project, a $2.6-million-dollar complete redesign of the Shenfield Centre’s interior. While the exterior would remain practically unchanged, everything inside the building would be updated. The ground floor would be devoted almost entirely to servicing customers where residents could get most of what they needed at bank-like desks and cubicles. The second floor would house all city departments and corporate offices including the mayor’s office, and the third floor would be home to the long-awaited new council chambers. Construction for the massive overhaul began in July 2003 and ended in April 2005 when the building hosted its grand-reopening.


The big brown brick building has remained relatively the same both inside and out since its last major renovation and continues to function as the sole home to the city’s government and wide variety of departments and services. While, the facility is still technically called the Shenfield Civic Centre, the original large wooden sign that bear the Shenfield name now sits on Allan Shenfield’s farm instead of outside of the building. It was moved – with Shenfield’s blessing – in an effort to end the long-standing confusion that occurred when directing people to city hall. Instead, a sign made of eight-inch metal lettering reading “Shenfield Centre” now sits above the main entrance, while the much larger “City Hall” sign remains attached to the second-floor exterior. t7x

Fun Fact

In 2006, following its interior overhaul, Spruce Grove City Hall became one of six Edmonton area buildings at the time to be designated as a LEED building – a “green” building that meets the Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design seal of approval. Through the removal of its heating and air conditioning system, and the installation of large opening windows, radiant heat panels, motion-sensing faucets, specially-designed and coated urinals, low flush toilets, and a motion/timing-operated lighting system, the building was able to cut its water use by 80 percent, its natural gas bills by 35 percent, and its electricity bills by six percent.