Heritage: The Airdrie Water Tower

Fall 2022

The Airdrie Water Tower is undergoing the process to become a Municipal Heritage Site. Here’s a recap of its history and future plans:

  • Constructed in 1959 as part of an infrastructure project to bring a safe and modern water system for Airdrie’s 309 residents;
  • The 21.8-metre-high (50,000 US gallon tank) watersphere steel tower represents mid-20th century infrastructure;
  • In 1974 the Nose Creek Historical Society placed a large rock on the property commemorating the Stevenson Stopping House and the RCMP. A time capsule was buried under the rock at the same time and Airdrie’s Town Council passed a resolution to prohibit selling the property for 100 years;
  • By 1976, Airdrie was connected to Calgary’s water supply and the water tower was decommissioned in 1977;
  • In 2003, Council voted unanimously to conserve the water tower rather than demolish it;
  • In 2016, the Great Places Plan recognized the water tower as one of the city’s cultural landscapes and special places;
  • In 2020, a comprehensive historical assessment of the water tower was complete;
  • The assessment concludes the tower has heritage value providing a link from the past to the present. It recommends the tower be designated as a Municipal Historic Resource (MHR);
  • Once designated, if the original structure is historically restored, restoration and preservation work on the Water Tower would be eligible for a provincial matching grant;
  • Projects can be completed in phases and municipalities can re-apply to help offset different phases of the conservation and restoration work. A designated Municipal Historic Resource can be modified from its original state, i.e., painted differently or re-located, but the structure would lose eligibility for any Historic Resources Conservation Grants.

Next steps:

  • Council must pass a resolution to issue a Notice of Intent to Designate the Airdrie Water Tower as a Municipal Historic Resource (NOI);
  • A 60-day waiting period;
  • Administration to draft a Municipal Historical Resource bylaw;
  • Present the bylaw to Council for three readings;
  • List the 1959 Airdrie Water Tower on both the Alberta and Canadian Registers of Historic Places;
  • Preservation work is anticipated to be completed in fall of 2022.