Lifestyles

COASTAL LIVING: Morden Mine engineering study gets financial boost

Friends of the Morden Mine hope a study paid for in part by municipal governments will show how to preserve and restore the 101-year-old structure. The tipple is the only above-ground relic from B.C.’s coal mining days. - NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin
Friends of the Morden Mine hope a study paid for in part by municipal governments will show how to preserve and restore the 101-year-old structure. The tipple is the only above-ground relic from B.C.’s coal mining days.
— image credit: NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin

An engineering study for the  101-year-old Morden Mine colliery could be getting some financial backing from the city, regional district and the province.

City council voted last week to offer $7,500 to help pay the cost to prepare a detailed engineering study to determine what will be required to keep the badly weathered, 101-year-old colliery head frame and tipple in South Wellington standing standing.

That study could cost between $20,000 and $30,0000.

A further $15,000 might also come from the Regional District of Nanaimo, but that funding is still to be decided on.

“That’s not yet confirmed,” said Erick Ricker, Friends of the Morden Mine co-president. “It’s gone through two stages, but it has to clear the final stage March 25.”

That money, however, is conditional upon the other partners contributing money, which includes the province, the city and the Friends of the Morden Mine, which is kicking in $1,000 and has already spent thousands of dollars on previous studies.

The site has historical significance as the last structure still standing that represents Nanaimo’s coal mining heritage and is one of only two such structures still standing in North America. The other is in Muddy, Ill.

The structure was heavily built in 1913 to handle the elevators and machinery to lift and lower them into the mine’s 183-metre deep shaft, but has been suffering the ravages of water and frost damage over its 101-year life.

The site was designated a provincial park in 1972 and Ricker argues that it should be the province paying to look after and preserve the site.

The structure is the only above-ground surviving relic of B.C.’s coal mining history and the Friends of the Morden Mine members want to see it preserved with an interpretive centre created at the site, but time is running out, at least for the head frame and tipple.

“The structure is on a short leash now,” Ricker said. “There’s a lot of damage and damage accelerates with the passing of time once water gets into the concrete.”

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