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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lebel Mansion fencing project to move forward

Lebel Mansion in 2011
Toni Lucas

Director of Community Services Diane Burt-Stuckey gave Pincher Creek's Town Council an update on the progress of the Lebel Mansion fencing project at council's June 22 meeting. The retaining wall that went partially around the grounds was experiencing structural failure.  It was removed, the materials were saved, and the property was sloped/graded in 2011.


When the wall was removed the fencing was taken down with the intention of restoring it at a later date for aesthetics and historical accuracy, as it is a local historic site.  Burt-Stuckey told council that $35,000 had been committed from Lebel reserve account and from Town of Pincher Creek general building funds for the fencing project, with the expectation that a matching grant would offset some of the costs. The Town agreed to a budget of up to $60,000. Burt-Stuckey explained the contractor estimate for the job was $68,500. The  Alberta Historical Resources  Foundation (AHRF) offers a matching grant of up to $50,000 and this project meets their requirements.  Burt-Stuckey said the outcome of grant applications will not be announced until January, 2016.   "We won't know our commitment to funding until then."

Fence and retaining wall in 2011

December 2011 after retaining wall and fence were removed and front yard graded

Burt-Stuckey presented Council with a variety of options including:

  1. Doing the work and paying for it in entirety,while waiting for an answer regarding the grant funding;
  2. Holding off on the installation until after the grant funding had been announced to know what if any funding would be forthcoming,
  3. Shelving the project indefinitely.  

The difference in cost from what has been committed already and the higher cost of the estimate is $33,464, still under the $50,000 maximum of the potential grant.

The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation (AHRF) grant requirements have been restructured, according to Burt-Stuckey.   She said this includes changes in deadlines and when the announcement of awarding the grant would happen.  "I felt I needed to bring it back to the council for clarification and a direction of what we wanted to do."  The first of her concerns was the estimate, which is $8,500 over budget. "It's a little bit higher than what was approved in the 2015 budget." The second concern she mentioned was finding someone to do the brickwork and pillars.  "Finding someone that is qualified, and willing to actually come and do it, that was a bit challenging." She said this was another reason she was approaching council for direction.  "We do have somebody lined up.  This person is looking for a commitment of 'Is this project going to go, or not.' We could proceed this summer, and be reimbursed for the work that is done."  When questioned by council she said the wrought iron pieces will not have to be remade, as they have been saved. "There will be a larger gap between the ground and the bottom of the wrought iron fence."  This is due to the change in the slope of the hill the mansion sits upon.

She explained the Historical Resources Board visited Pincher Creek in September of 2014 and the attending members were informed of the project and its challenges.  "It has all been in consultation with them, and they are well aware that this the last phase of it."  Regarding the possible AHRF grant she said "There is no guarantee that we will get any of it, or all of it."

Councillors discussed the matter and decided to proceed with the work.  If the AHRF grant comes through then that money will be put back into town funds.  Burt-Stuckey said the work could be scheduled to be done in the summer and fall of this year.

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