Time may run out for heritage clock

Heritage values or fiscal pressures could determine the fate of a Vernon landmark.

Heritage values or fiscal pressures could determine the fate of a Vernon landmark.

City staff will recommend Monday that council spend $15,000 to install electronic components in the clock tower at 32nd Avenue and 31st Street because it would cost $50,000 to refurbish the 1912 mechanism.

“I really want to maintain the clock because of the heritage value,” said Coun. Shawn Lee.

“It’s not just about telling time. If we don’t have a vision for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, there will be no heritage left for them.”

However, Lee says he is aware of the financial challenges facing the city and taxpayers and he struggles with the $50,000 required for restoration.

“It could be an interesting discussion,” he said of the council debate Monday.

The clock was installed in Vernon’s post office in 1912. It was relocated to its current location in 1967 after the original post office building was demolished.

One city employee was responsible for maintaining the clock but he retired a few years ago and the clock hasn’t functioned properly for about four years.

Because of the specialized nature of the work, the city only received two quotes.

“One quote from a local firm is for refurbishment of the existing clock mechanism for approximately $40,000 and is estimated to take approximately three months to complete,” said Shirley Koenig, operations manager, in a written report.

“Additional staff time will be required to remove and replace the clock as well as upgrade the tower and replace the plexiglass with lexan covers. Total cost of this work is estimated at $50,000.”

The second quote was $8,060 from a Vancouver firm to replace the existing mechanism with electronic movements and a GPS controller.

“Additional staff time to refurbish the tower complete with installation of lexan covers will also be required, bringing the total cost of this option to $15,000,” said Koenig.

Coun. Bob Spiers doesn’t believe a decision on the clock should be made right away.

“If we can get a grant, we can then take it from there,” he said.

“It’s a lot of money either way in this day and age.”