Mike Slaco, owner of Electron Metalworks, works on a large-scale piece of Tseshaht First Nation-designed artwork that will be incorporated into the side of the Harbour Quay Clocktower once it is refurbished. Slaco is working with the City of Port Alberni on the project. (RACHEL THEUS PHOTO)

Mike Slaco, owner of Electron Metalworks, works on a large-scale piece of Tseshaht First Nation-designed artwork that will be incorporated into the side of the Harbour Quay Clocktower once it is refurbished. Slaco is working with the City of Port Alberni on the project. (RACHEL THEUS PHOTO)

Port Alberni’s waterfront clock tower will get a facelift in 2021

Aging Harbour Quay clock tower needs to be refurbished

The city will be moving forward with refurbishment of the Harbour Quay clock tower in early 2021.

The aging clock tower has been a topic of discussion for a few years now. Back in 2018, the city entered into a partnership with Tseshaht First Nation to create an art piece that will be installed on the top of the clock tower.

READ MORE: Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay clock tower poised to get a facelift

However, the overall cost escalated when the city discovered that the clock tower is covered with lead-based paint that needs to be safely removed. The anticipated total cost for the project is around $453,750.

READ MORE: Cost to replace Port Alberni’s waterfront clock tower escalate

“The issue isn’t so much the paint as it is introducing the dust from the paint into the environment,” explained City CAO Tim Pley during a virtual meeting of council on Monday, Oct. 26. “If we are going to grind and cut on that structure, we’re told that in order to be within regulation, the entire structure needs to be shrouded and all that dust captured and collected.”

Earlier this year, the city received $76,818 in grant funding for the clock tower project. City council agreed on Monday to put an additional $101,932 into the budget from two different reserve funds. This is in addition to the $351,818 already set aside for the project in past budget discussions.

The clocks on the tower will be replaced with artwork designed by Willard Gallic Jr., a Tseshaht artist, and manufactured by Electron Metalworks. The artwork recognizes the history behind Harbour Quay, which was historically Tseshaht First Nation’s winter village where they celebrated their yearly harvest with a “wolf ritual.” The city is now referring to the structure as a “Story Tower” instead of a clock tower.

All city councillors expressed support for the project.

“I think it’s going to be a huge asset to the Harbour Quay area, and I think it’s going to be a huge step in reconciliation as well,” said Councillor Debbie Haggard.

“[The clock tower] is a structure that’s an icon for our city and I think it really warrants us paying attention to it,” added Councillor Ron Paulson.

Councillors acknowledged that the price is steep, but necessary for the work that needs to be done.

“The longer we drag our heels on this project, the more money it’s going to cost us,” pointed out Councillor Dan Washington.

The installation and refurbishment work will be completed by local contractor Bowerman Excavating.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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