Eau Claire smokestack relocation plan worries heritage group

The possibility that a downtown heritage structure could be moved to make way for redevelopment is raising concerns.

Owners of downtown site asking for approval to build several new buildings

Harvard Property Management, which owns Eau Claire Market and the land surrounding it, wants to redevelop the site with several new towers. (Harvard Property Management )

The possibility that a downtown heritage structure could be moved to make way for redevelopment is raising concerns.

Harvard Property Management, the company that owns Eau Claire Market, is asking for city approval to transform the site with several new buildings that will feature retail and office space and a hotel.

Harvard Property Management says the smokestack will have interpretive features at its new location about 150 metres away. (City of Calgary)

The first phase of the plan requires moving a smokestack — built in 1947 as part of a Calgary Transit garage — farther north to be incorporated into the revamped public plaza.

The 1886 Buffalo Café, which started out as the offices of the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Co., could also be moved north to the heritage plaza.

Calgary Heritage Initiative president Cynthia Klaassen says allowing the iconic 27-metre high smokestack to be moved would set a bad precedent.

She fears the smokestack will just end up in storage like the historic York Hotel, which was taken down to make way for a proposed south Bow Tower.

Council still needs to rezone

The plan to build a seven-storey tower with bricks from the demolished hotel was shelved more than five years ago.

"Most people have completely forgotten about that particular hotel and currently that lot, it's a blank plaza," Klaassen said.

"There's always a concern that once something is dismantled and put away that it won't be re-erected and of course, you lose the historical context and the reason for it being there in the first place."

On its website, Harvard Property Management says the smokestack will have interpretive features at its new location about 150 metres away, which would enhance its contribution to the public space. A company official says engineering reports conclude the stack could be moved as a single piece.

City council has not yet approved proposed zoning changes in Eau Claire to allow the re-development to go ahead.

The redevelopment proposal for the Eau Claire Market site calls for a smokestack from area's days as a sawmill and lumber business to be relocated. (Harvard Property Management)

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