Yellowknife city council voted down a plan to demolish the old Robertson headframe on Monday, giving the city more time to decide what to do with the iconic landmark.
At a vote Monday, councillors struck down a plan that would have seen the structure torn down as early as next summer. The decision came after members of the Mining Heritage Society urged the city to save the landmark.
Built in 1977, the headframe is the centrepiece of the Con Mine gold mine in Yellowknife, a 76-metre steel spire that dominates the skyline of the N.W.T. capital.
The mine itself operated from 1938 until 2003, long enough to make Con the longest running gold mine in the Northwest Territories.
The demolition of the Robertson headframe has been on hold since 2009 while the city decides what to do with it.
City officials say the structure is too expensive and risky — it could cost as much as $1.5 million to maintain — for the city to take on, and no one else has come forward. Some of the ideas under consideration are a rock climbing wall, a restaurant, the base for a zipline or a viewing platform for the Northern Lights.
Mining Heritage Society president Walt Humphries said the cost of preserving the structure is a small price to pay, considering the hundreds of millions of dollars mining has generated for the city. Humphries accused the city of dithering during the five years, instead of making an effort to save the head frame.
A majority of councillors who voted Monday agreed that the isue needs more time to come up with a solution. Councillor Linda Bussey has been canvassing for support to try and keep the headframe standing.
"I think we need to make that special effort to perserve our special land marks in our city. It's not an old city, and I mean if there's nothing left in 50 years, it's part of the soul, part of the heart," Bussey said.
Had the company gotten the go-ahead from council, work to tear down the Robertson headframe would have started next summer.