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Creston's white elevator coming down

Former UGG grain elevator is beyond feasible conservation efforts, says CBT
The former UGG grain elevator in Creston is beyond feasible conservation efforts, according to CBT, and is being deconstructed. Photo by Steve Boyko.

One of the two iconic grain elevators in Creston will be coming down.

The two structures — one a former Alberta Wheat Pool elevator built in 1935, the other is former UGG elevator, built in 1936 — were bought by the Columbia Basin Trust in 2018. The Wheat Pool elevator was extensively refurbished, and now includes an art gallery.

The second elevator, however — the UGG —  is beyond feasible conservation efforts, according to CBT.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision as the grain elevators are an iconic part of Creston’s history and skyline,” said Johnny Strilaeff, President and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust, in a release on Monday, June 17.

“When we acquired the elevators, we immediately assessed their condition and moved quickly to prevent the red elevator from deteriorating like the white one. While the red elevator could be restored, unfortunately the white elevator's condition is beyond the stage of feasible reclamation.

“We will be commencing careful deconstruction to address the immediate safety risks and will focus on retaining as much of the building materials as possible to be used for other community purposes in honour of the history of the white elevator.”

Due to immediate safety concerns, the Trust has started the deconstruction process, shoring up the shed structure and salvage of materials where possible, including valuable first-growth timbers and historic equipment. These reclaimed materials will be repurposed in future projects. In addition, videos and photographs will document the white elevator and be used to develop display signage.

The Trust said it will work with the community to determine how the salvaged materials can be repurposed and to explore potential future uses for the vacant site.

“As we celebrate 100 years of incorporation, we also recognize that the years bring changes,” said Creston Mayor Arnold DeBoon. “This decision is part of that change and although it has a visual effect on our Town, it's being done for the right reasons.

“It's our hope the elevator lives on in many creative and innovative projects as we find ways to repurpose the well seasoned timber as it is deconstructed.”

DeBoon also expressed thanks to Columbia Basin Trust, “for all the work you have done to conserve the red elevator, and for all you have done to ensure the best decision has been made for the badly deteriorated white elevator.” 

The Trust purchased the six-storey high elevators in June of 2018 to help preserve them as part of the region’s history. During their prime, they were used to collect, store and ship locally grown wheat, barley, oats and rye. They ceased operations in the 1980s.

Restoration efforts of the red elevator envelope were started in 2019, and are now finished. This included removing hazardous materials, stabilizing the structure, adding new roofs and lightning rods, replacing siding, a new coat of paint, and rebuilding and replacing doors and windows.

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998.
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