The Cold Lake Museums are looking to increase their attendance numbers with a proposed viewing tower in the hopes that it will help the area become a major tourist destination.
Museum board members Kael Rennie and Chris Holoboff approached city council last Tuesday to request funds for the project.
Built atop Radar Hill, the museums pull in an average of 4000 visitors every year, a healthy number according to Rennie, though he feels that will climb with the addition of the tower.
The idea for a tower first came to Rennie after visiting Bagotville, Ontario, which houses a 50 foot tall wooden tower, which allowed him to see, “all across the landscape. I knew it was perfect for the museums in Cold Lake.”
The tower is currently planned to be built outside of the museum gates, allowing year-round access at any time during the day.
However, for the tower to be built on Radar Hill as planned it will need to be made of steel to ensure long term sustainability.
Based on current estimates, the project’s cost is hovering around $180,000 before factoring in fencing and landscaping costs.
Rennie and his fellow board members are looking at ways to bring the cost down, while maintaining safety.
They have secured a $60,000 investment from the Medley society, and are seeking a further $50,000 from Cold Lake and the M.D. of Bonnyville and some private companies.
Mayor Craig Copeland is in support of the tower.
“I think it’s great. The people behind the museum society are very dedicated, and they’ve done a great job of bringing the museum back to life. A tower would be fabulous, because the view up there is amazing,” he said on The Morning After.
Although city council deferred the request at the time, Copeland predicts that it will be brought back sometime in June or July once they’ve formed an idea of what spending will look like in the wake of COVID-19.
Certain logistical kinks will also need to worked out, among them liability and parking for the tower.
The viewing tower is the second part of a three-phase plan to increase the museums’ presence.
In 2019, a radar dome was put atop the hill, providing some visibility from Highway 28.
Future plans include acquiring a decommissioned CF-18 to be placed on museum ground.
If all goes according to plan, the tower is hoped to be finished by 2021.