Current Temperature

0.4°C

February 24, 2024 February 24, 2024

Council mulls replica of Tank 77, a historical landmark

Posted on January 25, 2024 by Taber Times

By Cal Braid
Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

At a Jan. 8 council meeting, members revisited a plan to reconstruct one the town’s oldest landmarks: Tank 77. 

As part of a downtown revitalization effort, the Town is considering building a replica of the tank. It has historical significance for the town, dating back to 1903, when pioneers erected the lone water tank on the Canadian Pacific Railway line, naming it Tank #77. 

According to the Historical Marker Database, settlers saw a land rich in resources and possibilities and marked the location for its potential. The database says, “Taber was settled by Mormons in the first decade of the 20th century. The name is said to come from the first part of the word tabernacle.” The town’s early economy depended on mining beef cattle and wheat, and later, with the development of irrigation, cultivating sugar beets became important. 

The Town of Taber was originally known as Tank No. 77, and the tank was used by the railway as a filling station. 

“In 1903, it is said that the first Mormon settlers from the U.S. were the ones to establish a hamlet at the Tank,” the historical database says. “After the town’s post office was built in 1907, the CPR decided to call the town Tabor, probably after Mount Tabor in the Holy Land. However, various letters and station heads came out printed ‘Taber,’ so the CPR changed the name to make it match the records.”

With that perspective in mind, the Town revisited the idea of a replica tank. Chris Eagan reminded council of a grant received for the downtown revitalization project from Prairie Economic Development Canada. Previously, administration received approval to construct a downtown park at the corner of 47 Avenue and 51 Street. When council first gave administration the go-ahead on the project, it was split into two phases: first completing the park, and second, the construction of a replica Tank 77. 

“At present the park is substantially complete,” Eagan told council. “Administration is seeking approval to undergo some work to confirm the requirements of the Tank 77 structure.” He said that administration will also need to examine potential alternative locations and prepare a preliminary cost estimate. Funding is required for external consulting and to complete the program phase of the project.

Administration asked council for permission to complete project programming work for a replica of Tank 77 by March 31, at a total budget of $6,000, but was constrained by the fact that the project and budget were not currently approved in the capital plan.

The meeting agenda said that the tank “forms an essential element of the history and story of Taber.” Construction of the Tank 77 replica in the original concept plan would require the relocation of the existing Fortis overhead power lines. The relocation price received from Fortis created a substantial budget issue. Upon inquiry from Coun. Brewin, Eagan said that Fortis quoted the Town $250,000 to move the overhead power lines to the underground. Having said that, he explained that a full-size replica would require a change in the power lines but a quarter-size replica would not.

Coun. Firth asked whether the replica would have any function or if it would be purely aesthetic. Eagan said the purpose of the project and its function would be decided further along in the planning process. Firth clarified, “So the $6000 is just to define the project, that is not for the building of the replica.” Eagan confirmed that the $6000 is merely for the program planning phase. Non-specific terms like ‘programming’ and ‘inception’ seemed to cloud the discussion, and the idea of making the tank a walk-in interpretative experience didn’t garner much enthusiasm.

Brewin followed that line of questioning further. “My thoughts are we don’t really want to blow all of our money on a tank that we don’t really intend to use. It’s just to look at.” The idea of spending $6000 for programming ideas and using it as an interpretive site didn’t seem to go over with Brewin, who said that a plaque at the base of it would suffice and the money could be used in the park instead.

Mayor Prokop said, “It seems like it’s become a little convoluted on where we need to go with it. You would think we could do that within our own confines without spending that $6000.” He added that his understanding was that if the replica was less than 50 feet high, the power relocation would be unnecessary. He also asked for clarification about the time constraints upon the funding availability, and whether an extension was available.

Brewin pointed out that at 50 feet high, stability and wind resistance would be factors as well. The general consensus was that a smaller structure would be most feasible. Firth concluded by saying that the funding source would decide whether or not she was in favour of the project. Grant funding would be a yes, capital funding would be a no. 

Coun. Bekkering made a motion that council required further information at the next meeting. All were in favour.

The meeting agenda said that the tank “forms an essential element of the history and story of Taber.” Construction of the Tank 77 replica in the original concept plan would require the relocation of the existing Fortis overhead power lines. The relocation price received from Fortis created a substantial budget issue. Upon inquiry from Coun. Brewin, Eagan said that Fortis quoted the Town $250,000 to move the overhead power lines to the underground. Having said that, he explained that a full-size replica would require a change in the power lines but a quarter-size replica would not.

Coun. Firth asked whether the replica would have any function or if it would be purely aesthetic. Eagan said the purpose of the project and its function would be decided further along in the planning process. Firth clarified, “So the $6000 is just to define the project, that is not for the building of the replica.” Eagan confirmed that the $6000 is merely for the program planning phase. Non-specific terms like ‘programming’ and ‘inception’ seemed to cloud the discussion, and the idea of making the tank a walk-in interpretative experience didn’t garner much enthusiasm.

Brewin followed that line of questioning further. “My thoughts are we don’t really want to blow all of our money on a tank that we don’t really intend to use. It’s just to look at.” The idea of spending $6000 for programming ideas and using it as an interpretive site didn’t seem to go over with Brewin, who said that a plaque at the base of it would suffice and the money could be used in the park instead.

Mayor Prokop said, “It seems like it’s become a little convoluted on where we need to go with it. You would think we could do that within our own confines without spending that $6000.” He added that his understanding was that if the replica was less than 50 feet high, the power relocation would be unnecessary. He also asked for clarification about the time constraints upon the funding availability, and whether an extension was available.

Brewin pointed out that at 50 feet high, stability and wind resistance would be factors as well. The general consensus was that a smaller structure would be most feasible. Firth concluded by saying that the funding source would decide whether or not she was in favour of the project. Grant funding would be a yes, capital funding would be a no. 

Coun. Bekkering made a motion that council required further information at the next meeting. All were in favour.

Leave a Reply

Get More The Taber Times
Log In To Comment Latest Paper Subscribe