As costs to repair Port Alberni’s aging clock tower continue to increase, the City of Port Alberni is applying for some federal grant funding to cover those costs.
For the past few years, Port Alberni city council has been planning to convert the clock tower at Harbour Quay to a “story tower” in partnership with Tseshaht First Nation. The clocks on the tower will be replaced with artwork designed by Willard Gallic Jr., a Tseshaht artist, and manufactured by Electron Metalworks.
However, the cost to refurbish the clock tower continues to increase due to the age of the tower. Council has added funding to the project at least three times, but rising costs have “outpaced” budgeting, said City CAO Tim Pley during a council meeting on Monday, July 12.
Currently, the city is $50,000 short of completing the project, said Pley.
A grant opportunity has come up from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund that will fund up to 75 percent of shovel-ready projects to a maximum of $750,000. The projects must be completed by March 21, 2023.
“The only shovel-ready project that we believe the city to have that may qualify is the conversion of the clock tower to a story tower,” said Pley.
Council agreed on Monday to apply for this grant.
Councillor Cindy Solda said she was concerned about the escalating costs.
“I sure would like to get it done before this [council’s] term is over,” she said.
Mayor Sharie Minions agreed.
“This is a really important project,” she said. “Although it is frustrating to see costs going up on this project, anytime you are revitalizing an old asset, this kind of thing is unfortunately expected.”
Pley said the city is hoping to complete the project either this year or next year.
The Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) requested on Monday that the city also apply for funding to create a gathering place at Tyee Landing, with a covered shelter to protect people from the heat and the wind.
Minions said she would like to continue working with PAPA on this project, but wants to wait and see what happens with the Somass Sawmill lands before applying for any grant funding. The city served Western Forest Products with a notice of expropriation for the Somass lands back in June 2021.