By Collin Gallant on November 25, 2016.
Medicine Hat News
Work to demolish most of the Redcliff Pressed Brick Plant took many townspeople by surprise this week, though the company that owns the site says structures have to come down to ensure safety and see a redevelopment of the site begin.
Malcolm Sissons of the I-XL group told the News on Thursday that it may be a sad day to see the last vestiges of the factory fall, but it’s necessary at this point.
“A lot of people think that it maybe should stay standing, but no one is willing to take it over,” said Sissons. “We are not going to be around forever. We had to come up with some solution.”
Demolition work should be complete next week, while work to add to the site should commence next year, including shoring up some minor structures as focal points in an historical park.
“We wanted to make sure that we leave some remnant of our time there,” said Sissons.
As an industrial site, it is subject to provincial reclamation and remediation guidelines.
Operations ended in 2004, though most of the kilns had not bee fired since the early 1980s and, since mid 2000s had been exposed to the elements when operations were moved to Medicine Hat and the main building was taken down.
As such, the kilns are now beyond feasible repair.
“The mortar is essentially dust,” said Sissons.
Eventually the site is to be remembered with an historical park, complete with some new structures built from recovered brick, some remaining machinery and, in the future, possibly public facilities proposed by the town.
The entire area is part of the town’s east-side redevelopment plan. Last week a concept drawing in the town’s recreation facilities plan suggests the near area would be well suited to sports fields.
A smaller test kiln and chimney will remain intact with only minor remediation required to ensure the structure.
As well, the base of one main chimney will remain though the stack will be cut off at a height of about 15 feet.
Some information about the changes are available for public viewing at the Redcliff Public Library.