NANAIMO — A significant funding announcement is the ray of hope supporters of Morden Mine prayed for but assumed would never materialize.
The province recently announced $1.4-million to restore the historic dilapidated 74-foot coal mining structure at Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park.
The iconic 106-year-old concrete structure in South Wellington off Morden Rd. will be completely restored with new cement, said Friends of Morden Mine Society president Sandra Larocque.
“This will ensure Morden Mine will be around for another 100-years at least,” a joyful Larocque told NanaimoNewsNOW.
Crews will arrive on site Monday to begin the restoration work, which Larocque said will see the famous head frame and tipple structure reinforced over the next year.
The park will close intermittently during construction.
Security fencing around the mine will also be removed when the job is done, letting people get up close and personal with Nanaimo's coal mining history.
“I think children need to learn about what our ancestors went through to build this town and what made it great,” Larocque said. “Coal was a very big part of Nanaimo.”
More than 600 men are estimated to have died in Nanaimo area coal mines, which dominated the Harbour City's economy for 80 years beginning in the late 1800's.
Erik Ricker, past president of the Friends of Moden Mine Society, said he was “over the moon” the funding was announced to bring the mine back to its former glory.
“I was shocked, I didn't see this coming. It was a nice surprise," Ricker said.
The $1.4 million commitment from the province follows a $25,000 pledge in 2017 from the previous Liberal government to help address safety concerns at Morden Mine.
Society members lobbied the government of the day for years to address Morden Mine, which became a provincial park in 1972.
Morden Mine opened in 1913 and operated until going bankrupt in 1921.
A heritage firm which oversaw the Kinsol Trestle and Nanaimo Bastion restorations is assigned to the substantial Morden Mine fix.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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