Vancouver’s centennial totem pole, in danger of falling in the wind, gets temporary support

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      If you happen to go by the foot of Cypress Street in Kitsilano, you'll notice a Vancouver landmark is getting some help to stay standing.

      The Centennial Pole—carved by Kwakwaka'wakw chief Mungo Martin, his son David, and nephew Henry Hunt in 1958—is a familiar sight to many locals, near the Vancouver Maritime Museum in Hadden Park. Ironically, the totem pole was commissioned by the provincial government to commemorate the passage of 100 years since the creation of the Colony of British Columbia on land stolen from First Nations.

      Map showing the location of the Centennial Pole.
      City of Vancouver

      On its blog, the City of Vancouver's public art program explains what's going on with the 30.5-metre-tall pole:

      Extensive maintenance was performed in 1986 and the pole’s condition has been monitored during the intervening years. However, the effects of time and weather can be seen in areas of deterioration on the pole. A condition assessment and structural analysis conducted in 2014 indicated decay at the base of the Centennial Pole, placing its stability at risk in the event of exceptionally strong winds. To secure the pole and ensure public safety, a temporary structural support system was installed mid-December. It is expected to be in place for up to two years.

      The stabilization approach has been designed to minimize physical impact on the pole and its artistic components. Key features include: buttresses made of Western red cedar timber to prevent the pole from bending, and a ring of compression pads at the point of contact to protect the surfaces. The fully reversible system protects both the pole’s historic timber, and its painted surfaces, without fastening or boring into the surface.

      The temporary support structure is designed to last at least two years. In the meantime, the city hopes to find a permanent solution.

      A planning process will start in spring 2015. Martin's descendants will be among the stakeholders consulted.

      The base of the Centennial Pole in July 2014.
      Devon Rowcliffe