The City of Greenwood is making renewed efforts to protect the historic smokestack at Lotzkar Park as part of the discussions they plan to have at the Union of B.C. Municipalities next week.
The smelter was built in 1901 and was at the time described as one of the most modern in existence. It eventually closed in November 1918 and sold to Leon Lotzkar, who sold off the machinery and gave the site to the City of Greenwood. At its height, it was 36 metres tall and contained 250,000 bricks.
Today, efforts are being made to protect the site from graffiti and vandals stealing the bricks. Acting Chief Administrative Officer Wendy Higashi said the issues with the smokestack are numerous, but right now the graffiti is an issue. Efforts to stabilize the structure will include consultations with a structural engineer to examine the impact of removing the paint on the integrity of the brickwork.
Higashi said the city encourages anyone who witnesses graffiti to report it to the RCMP, but the time limit for reporting incidents after they happen makes it difficult for the city to file reports about the graffiti themselves.
On a visit to the smokestack, Greenwood mayor Ed Smith said the fence has long been open, but will be sealed when the project is complete.
In a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Smith said the smokestack has become iconic in the city, and for that reason is important to preserve.
“Its huge slag pile and tall brick chimney have become landmarks along Highway 3. The site has a mystique that is very appealing,” he wrote. “The City of Greenwood has long looked to the site as an asset that will promote tourism in the area.”
Efforts to protect the site have been ongoing for years, but Higashi is hoping this year will finally get things going.
In 1994, Eileen Fletcher and A.J. Vecchio conducted a site survey of the area, noting areas of damage and improvement. The report noted the flue arch has collapsed and needs to be stabilized and the loose rock needs to be capped and stabilized for safety reasons.
The report also said the approach to any preservation should include the archaeological integrity, historical integrity, and the conservation of the structures that remain.
In the 22 years since that report, Smith’s letter notes that another section of the flue has collapsed and the graffiti must be removed.
Smith and Higashi, along with Councillor Gerry Shaw, will be attending a meeting at UBCM for the purposes of getting grants for the work. Since the site is of historic value, the city is seeking a grant for the engineer to evaluate the site as well as for the restoration of the structure.
UBCM will be from Sept. 26-30 in Victoria, B.C.