The old Tyee Plaza clocktower has found its new home.
On Thursday morning, Feb. 6, about 3.5 years or so after it came down, the 49-foot, decades-old fixture of the downtown core went back up, this time at Econo Ezy Box Storage in Campbellton.
Econo Ezy Box owner Ted Arbour says the process for getting the tower installed at the storage facility wasn’t as smooth as he’d have liked, as he needed to go before city council numerous times over the past few years to get the paperwork in order, but as he watches it get craned into place, he says it’s all been worth it.
Arbour first applied to the city for a variance permit to allow the tower to be resurrected at 1231 Spruce Street back in early 2017. Despite the recommendation of city staff at the time not to allow the variance, as the tower was almost twice as tall as what is allowed in the bylaws, council gave Arbour the go-ahead to put it up.
But when he went to do it last summer, he was told that his variance had expired, and he would need to reapply. Variances are only valid for two years unless work on the project has been “substantially completed,” according to city policy, of which Arbour was unaware.
But he went back before council, got the variance approved again, and made arrangements for the final installation.
“It’s such an iconic part of the history of Campbell River,” Arbour says, watching the crane operators do their work. “I’m glad I can be a part of keeping it around.”
The tower was trucked onto the property Thursday under the supervision of Grant Wallace, who came up with the initial idea of relocating it to the storage facility when he heard it was coming down back in 2016 and has been overseeing the refurbishment of the tower ever since.
After being removed from the truck by the same company who initially raised the tower into place at Tyee Plaza almost 50 years ago, Discovery Crane, it was carefully moved onto its new pad, specifically created to support its weight for decades into the future.
Arbour says the refurbishment of the tower has brought it into the 2020’s with the help of Small Planet Energy Inc., which will install three solar panels at the top of the clocktower to power both the clock itself, as well as an electrical charging station for electric vehicles. This service will be made available to all of Econo’s customers who have an electric vehicle, Arbour says, free of charge.
The only two changes made to the tower between when it was taken down in 2016 and when it went back up are that only three sides will light up, and the “Tyee Plaza” section of the tower will now read “Econo Ezy Box Storage.”
“We made the side that will face the hill not light up,” Arbour says, “because we didn’t want it impacting on the neighbours up there, but the other three sides are fully operational and it still has the same fish on it and everything. We kind of had to rebuild the entire thing to get rid of the rust and whatnot, and made a lot of improvements, but it’s still, in essence, the same clock that was up in Tyee Plaza when I got here in the 60s.
“This is truly a new beginning for an old friend of Campbell River,” Arbour says. “The tower previously stood for 45-plus years, let us hope it stands for another 45 plus.”