City workers remove the hands on the clock at Five Corners on Jan. 17 for repair after they and the gears were damaged due to recent wind and ice. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

City workers remove the hands on the clock at Five Corners on Jan. 17 for repair after they and the gears were damaged due to recent wind and ice. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Time stands still for Chilliwack’s famously incorrect clock

Hands of Five Corners clock off for repair after suffering wind and ice damage

The old saying that even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day doesn’t quite work in Chilliwack.

We’ve got a broken clock but it tells no time at all.

In recent weeks, downtown visitors may have noticed a missing hand or two, incorrect times, and most recently, no hands at all on the clock tower at Five Corners.

The reason? High winds and ice storms in December and into January have damaged the gears and arms on the clock, according to city hall.

The arms of the clock have recently been removed for repairs, a city spokesperson said via email.

Notwithstanding the recent storms, the clock has taken a beating with other significant storms over the last few years, which has led to damage to the gears and the arms, and which is why the clock is often wrong.

Those who are downtown when the clock chimes may have also noticed that even when the hands are incorrect or missing, the chime is bang on. That’s because the clock has two parts: the external mechanical arms connected to gears, and an internal digital system that sounds the chimes.

The external clock arms often fall back by five to 10 minutes, something city crews regularly get called in to maintain.

The nearly 16-year-old clock was actually referred to as the Millenium Clock Tower when it was officially dedicated along with the surrounding plaza on May 31, 2002 by then-MLAs John Les and Barry Penner, along with then-mayor Clint Hames and city councillors Bernie Cross, Sharon Gaetz, Casey Langbroek, Mel Folkman, Dorothy Kostrzewa and Chuck Stam.

Of course, the clock tower dedication was overshadowed in news coverage that day as it came alongside the grand opening ceremonies for the Chilliwack Law Courts. That, too, was distracted from somewhat as approximately 30 people showed up with signs to protest the then new BC Liberal government’s cuts to services for women, health and seniors.

• READ MORE: Law Courts open – Chilliwack Progress June 4, 2002

The bill for the clock came in at $530,000, $330,000 of which was paid for by city taxpayers with the remaining $200,000 coming by way of a provincial government grant.

The clock tower was part of downtown revitalization initiatives, and was dreamed up in the late 1990s as cities across B.C. looked for millennial projects.

”In Chilliwack it was decided that a clock tower at Five Corners would be an interesting addition and would serve as an appropriate project for the turn of the century and millennium,” according to former mayor and Chilliwack MLA John Les.

Les said a committee was formed one member of which was the man who developed the steam clock in Gastown in Vancouver. Plans were finalized for the clock just as Les was leaving municipal office and the ball was handed over to incoming mayor Clint Hames.

The architect was Killick Metz Bowen Rose Architects Planners Inc., and the design-builder was Van Maren Construction.

As for the clock today, as of Wednesday the arms had not yet been replaced so court-goers and those passing through Five Corners will have to rely on watches and iPhones and, of course, the chimes, which still work.

And hopefully the arms will be fixed and replaced soon.

Time’s a wastin’.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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Time stands still for Chilliwack’s famously incorrect clock