Melfort water tower renovations could cost more than $350,000

Daily Herald file photo. The Melfort water tower could be renovated at a cost of more than $350,000.

Nicole Goldsworthy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

Melfort’s water tower needs repairs that could cost the city between $350,000 and $400,000.

In 2022, SaskTel Pioneers requested that the City of Melfort consider repainting the water tower. The water tower property is a municipally designated heritage site. In summer 2023, JCK Engineering was retained to assess and evaluate the exterior cladding and roof of the water tower and to provide a report with recommendations and costs to paint the water tower’s exterior.

The inspections found:

Several of the wood shingles at the roof elevation had come loose and the wood framing was exposed. The spaces between the wood framing were points of water egress at the roof level. A small hatch was uncovered and pigeons were able to enter the attic space.

Inside the attic space they observed several dead pigeons and the attic platform was covered with excrement.

Around the perimeter of the roof the wood framing and shiplap had rotted at some locations.

Holes and gaps were present, and water could flow through the roof and into/down the side of the wood structure rather than over the edge.

The wood cladding around the perimeter of the building had been painted, however the paint was cracking and peeling off the wood.

There were several loose boards and some holes in the cladding where pigeons were able to access the space between the tank and the wood enclosure.

The water tower was once accessed from a concrete bunker that was constructed at the centre of the building. The space was filled with pigeon excrement and some dead (and alive) pigeons.

The square wood enclosure was also weathered and the paint was flaking off. At the base of the columns, some of the plated and columns members were bent.

“The water tower site presents several challenges,” said Rob Lok, director of community services, in the report. “The trees that have grown underneath the water tower will need to be managed.

The electrical lines in the alleyway on the south side of the tower present a significant hazard to workers, and solutions and a safety plan will have to developed in partnership with SaskPower.”

There is a commercial business directly adjacent to the water tower and construction activity will have to have access to the business’s parking lot. And the water tower is 85 feet tall – working at heights exponentially contributes to construction costs.

Lok’s report made the following recommendations for repairs:

Remove trees and erect a scaffolding structure around the entire water tower.

Remove roof shingles and shiplap.

Clean attic space by removing all dead pigeons and excrement.

Install new roof cladding and shingles.

Repair loose wood cladding on the frost shield. Replace any rotten cladding and repair all holes.

Clean and repaint the entire tower structure.

Remove scaffolding, clean and re-landscape site.

Lok said it is estimated construction costs to repair the roof and cladding, and to repaint the water tower are between $350,000 and $400,000. This includes the cost of a scaffold structure that would enclose the entire tower, repairs to the wood structure, and repainting. This does not include the costs to remove the trees.

Estimated demolition costs to remove the water tower are $275,000. This includes demolition of the foundations three feet below grade, removal and disposal of the tower structure, and some tree removal.

City Manager Adam Homes said, “We know that the water tower is a significant landmark, with high heritage value.”

The City of Melfort plans to engage the community and get feedback in what the community thinks they should do with the structure. This engagement process will be rolled in the next few weeks, Lok said.