A noticeable blemish on one of Airdrie’s most recognized landmarks has led City council to look at what can be done to return the structure to its former glory.
A letter sent to council from a resident during the regular meeting on Nov. 1 called for the City to look at fixing a visible blemish on the south side of the decommissioned water tower.
“Airdrie’s water tower has a blemish – a nasty and noticeable chip of paint absent above the proud name of Airdrie,” stated a letter signed by resident Phoenix Phillips and other Airdronians. “When I posed this question of whether we should care or not on a social media group site of 15,000 Airdronians, the community responded.”
Philips’ letter said Airdrie’s aging and non-functioning water tower is more than a blip on a map – it’s a beacon of Airdrie’s history.
“It is a statement of our love for what has been created for so many years,” the letter read. “The water tower reminds us that the past is a vital part of our future.”
Coun. Ron Chapman said the blemish is “very visible” and he agreed it needs to be repaired.
According to City administration, there is already money put aside in the upcoming budget to address the water tower. The estimated cost for sandblasting and repainting the water tower is set to be roughly $310,000.
“We will certainly look forward to having that conversation during budget [deliberations],” said Mayor Peter Brown.
According to Lorne Stevens, director of community infrastructure for the City, while cosmetic fixes have been in the works for some time, the tower remains structurally sound.
“Obviously, cosmetic and paint associated with that is past its useful end of life, and that is what is in play here,” he said.
While no immediate decision was made during the council meeting, an item regarding cosmetic fixes on the water tower is set to come before the Community Services Advisory Board in December. Stevens said grant deliberations will be a part of that to look at some of the available funding opportunities.
The now-decommissioned water tower was initially erected in 1959, and provided a reservoir for water in case of an emergency for what was then a growing village.
According to a plaque located near the tower, it was constructed at a time when water and sewage systems were also being built for the then-village of Airdrie. The tower signified the need for infrastructure to support an expanding population.
Just over a decade later, the population of Airdrie had grown by four times its previous size. The tower was decommissioned after a large reservoir was built in the south end of the growing community. By 1977, the village had become a town and the tower was made obsolete.
In the letter submitted to council, one resident said the water tower is an important landmark that helps shape Airdrie’s identity, and should be preserved.
“Prairie communities have so little left that identifies them from afar,” the letter stated. “Grain elevators have mostly disappeared. The water tower of a town stands out. In some towns, they are unique enough that you know which town you are approaching just by the shape of the tower.”
—With files from Carmen Cundy/Airdrie City View