A symbol of Sylvan Lake for almost 25 years, the lighthouse at the marina is slated for demolition this fall as part of development plans for the property.
Betty Osmond, the town’s chief administrative officer, said it’s coming down in preparation for marina work this winter.
Councillors approved a demolition permit for the rental shack on the property but because the lighthouse has such a small footprint a permit isn’t needed for its destruction.
The 55 foot octagonal white tower with a red cupola over the lantern, which was erected to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the town in 1988, is in very poor shape and is not salvagable.
“We had both the building inspector and fire chief look at it and it’s not in a state that could be saved,” said Ron Lebsack, director of leisure and protective services.
“From a staff perspective our recommendation is not to preserve the lighthouse,” added Osmond. “My understanding is it’s pretty much crumbling.”
“I’m hoping we’re going to see it in the 2013 budget,” said Mayor Susan Samson. “The lighthouse has to be replaced.”
She and her family were among the “Keepers of the Light” who contributed to the initial construction, according to a plaque on the lighthouse.
The plaque also claims the structure “is the only operating lighthouse between the Pacific west coast and Lake Winnipeg”.
“Like the lonely sentinels that have guided mariners for hundreds of years, it’s hoped this light will be a guide to Sylvan Lake for all,” the plaque states.
Samson also asked town staff to see if the plaque could be saved.
While the lighthouse is on private property now, that strip of land where it sits will eventually be given to the town as municipal reserve for a park space when development of the marina takes place.
“Comments are going to come back, ‘there they go tearing down one of our icons’,” said Councillor Dale Plante.
Councillor Laverne Asselstine was equally concerned. “What was put up for our 75th anniversary is being torn down in our 100th.”
Samson later in the discussion suggested a motion that “council will pursue every avenue to ensure a new lighthouse replaces the former structure and will leave no stone unturned”.
However Councillor Rick Grimson suggested, “there might be other options” for a different type of structure. And Councillor Ken MacVicar questioned whether the town should definitively say it would pay the bill for the cost.
As a result, the motion by Plante, which was unanimously supported, stated council “will support the initiative to replace the structure with something equal or appropriate”.