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EDITORIAL: Oil rig finds suitable new home in Edmonton

Century-old rig is not technically a piece of Okotoks’ past, so the need to preserve it here isn’t paramount.  
A century-old oil rig is prepared for transport from Okotoks to Edmonton on June 19.

It’s never easy to give up a piece of history, but in the case of the old oil rig on the grounds of the Okotoks Art Gallery, it was the right decision. 

Late last week, the century-old rig that has stood adjacent to the gallery for the past 20 years was uprooted for its move to the Oilfield Equipment Museum in Edmonton. There was some concern voiced in the community over sending the rig northward, but in the end, there were two compelling reasons why that outcome made the most sense. 

First off, the rig isn’t from Okotoks; it was originally used in Montana in the 1920s. Although it’s similar to rigs that were used extensively in the Foothills, it’s not technically a piece of Okotoks’ past so the need to preserve it here isn’t paramount.  

That lack of local connection is what prevented it from being moved to a rather logical new home, the old gas plant in Turner Valley, but the provincial government determined it couldn't accept the artifact because it's not original to Okotoks or the region. 

That doesn’t mean it’s not a valuable piece of history and the Okotoks Petroleum Association should be acknowledged for gifting the rig to the Town back in 2004, but at the end of the day, it makes as much sense, if not more, for it to be housed in the museum in Edmonton as it does to be on the lawn of the art gallery. 

Speaking of location, that brings us to the second reason it needed to find a new home. The Town has plans in the works for improvements to the downtown core, including to traffic flow, and the rig stood in the way. 

So, while it’s important to preserve the past, and the rig has been preserved, there's also something to be said for progress. 

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