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Rocky Mountain House council mulling new landmark

Water tower landmark demolished in 2017
Rocky Mountain House's well-known water tower was demolished in 2017 after it was deemed a safety hazard for STARS helicopters using a nearby helipad. (Advocate file photo)

There was much local dismay when Rocky Mountain House's landmark water tower was demolished in 2017.

The tall blue and white tower bearing the town's name and emblazoned with its slogan "Where Adventure Begins" had been standing since 1963. However, the water tower's location had not been properly taken into account when a new STARS helipad was built nearby.

To meet aviation safety rules, the top of the water tower would have had to be painted in an orange and white checker board pattern, an option rejected by the town.

When the cost of moving the tower proved too expensive, it was demolished at Alberta Health Services' expense in 2017.

Now, council has begun thinking about whether it is time to create another landmark. Council previously pencilled in $200,000 in the 2024 capital budget for a potential landmark project as part of council's strategic goal of boosting tourism.

Coun. Len Phillips said the tower had been an "iconic symbol" for the town. "What we're looking at is something to replace the water tower.

"Whatever that may be. Whatever form or shape that may take … something that can easily be identified as Rocky Mountain House, where people want to come, see it, take pictures in front of it, share it on social media …," said Phillips during council's Tuesday governance and priorities committee meeting.

All on council agreed there will have to be significant public input before any landmark project gets off the ground.

"I think we need to get a feel from the community whether there's an appetite for this," said Coun. Ken Moesker. "Between now and then, we're just kind of guessing.

Coun. Tina Hutchinson said there could be an opportunity to create a landmark that becomes part of a town branding initiative used to promote the community and boost economic development.

"Are we looking for a landmark, not just for photo opportunities and to attract people to town, or is it something that will (include) branding across the town."

Coun. Dave Auld said he supported the landmark idea but council has much work to do before proceeding.

"If it's going to be something to a larger scale we don't have the land to put it on and we don't have the parking to encourage people to go."

"If we're going to go down this road we as a council need to be prepared to have property purchased or figure out a design where it's going to go before we even put any money into this."

Council voted to further consider the landmark initiative during strategic planning discussions at its May 21 meeting.




Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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