Government House unveils new safety railing above grand foyer

A new addition to the second floor in Regina’s Government House will provide safety and accessibility to the museum’s visitors thanks to a new safety railing featuring plexiglass above the grand foyer.

The Accessible Stories Project was the topic at a small event inside the Amédée Forget Museum on Friday afternoon. In attendance were Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty, his wife Donna Mirasty, and Saskatchewan Legislative Speaker of the House Mark Docherty.

The project saw the introduction of a free-standing, floating railing system which is not attached to any of the original structure and maintains the structural integrity to provide a safe experience for guests.

Chad Debert, assistant manager of exhibits and collections at Government House, played with a few designs when he came up with the idea for a new railing. He mentioned that the lower railing above the foyer was one of the first things he noticed when he started working at the museum in 2010.

Temporary stanchions were placed around the space to keep people away, however Debert said he wasn’t a fan of the look and he was determined to come up with a sleek design to co-exist with the original barrier.

At Friday’s presentation, Debert was able to show off his work to officials, board members and others at the event. He admitted he’s very pleased with the design.

“When people are up here, they don’t have this feeling of falling down from the second floor,” he said. “I wanted it to really disappear up here and this [design] made the most sense.”

(L-R): Speaker of the House Mark Docherty, Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty and Her Honour Donna Mirasty checking out the new addition to Government House’s second floor. (Photo: Moises Canales/620 CKRM)

Manager of Government House Brie Hnetka explained how it was difficult for people to steady themselves since the original railing is low, meaning guests didn’t have anything to hang on to.

It proved to be especially difficult for visitors with mobility issues or were unstable on their feet. Staff had to warn people to not approach the railing since it was so short.

She said the new railing makes it possible for people to get up close and feel more inclusive in the space.

“I think it’s just human nature to want to get close and look down. It was something we had to be careful with,” she stated. “I think it will really increase our visitor experience.”

Another feature of the new system allows staff to provide informational graphic panels that tell stories of Government House over the years. Those stories include the house’s role as a convalescent home after World War II and then an adult education centre named Saskatchewan House.

The structure itself was approximately $8,000 while the graphics and other costs were around $2,000. The project was made possible with funding from the Government House Foundation.

Government House is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is free to the public.

More from 620 CKRM