A recent information report to council from Brett Ruck, the Town’s environmental supervisor, includes information about the failure of the retaining wall in front of the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, and the lighthouse next door.
Both are on municipal property, but beside the lighthouse, to the north, is a charming white clapboard house owned by long-time resident Peggy Walker.
Her retaining wall is also failing, and she has arranged for Rankin Construction to begin repairs next week, at a cost of $80,000 to $100,000.
Ruck’s report says an estimate from Rankin for repairs to the Town property is pending. Discussions were expected to take place this week.
When Walker spoke to Ruck during a public meeting last spring, telling him about seeing water bubbling up on her property she says he came right out to check on it.
He called in divers to check out the wall along the front of both properties, and Walker paid for ground-penetrating radar to determine the damage to her wall.
“It was discovered that the sea wall along my property and the pumphouse property is in serious need of repair. On my property, work will start very shortly.”
It has to be done before March, when the fish spawning season begins, she says. After arranging with Rankin to have the work done, it took about 10 days to get the necessary permit, she adds.
She’s been told if the wall in front of the pumphouse isn’t fixed, water can get behind hers once it’s repaired and cause further damage.
“As I understand it, this work has not been included in the new budget for NOTL. I therefore will have to go ahead on my own. However, I am hopeful that the situation will change before work is started.”
Walker says the front of her property “is complicated.”
The house was built in 1942, and she’s lived there since 1983. Her deed shows a 125-foot piece of property out into the water, creating what she calls a “water lot. It’s quite unique.”
There is a boat slip, and the concrete around it is fine, she says, but the retaining wall is not.
She’s anxious to have it repaired before the water level rises further, and is fully accepting of the fact that it’s private property, and the repairs are her responsibility, she says. She has no basement to worry about flooding, but if the water rises far enough, it could come into the house.
“It’s the lakes above us that are a concern. They’re full. When the water starts moving, it will go right by my door.”
Last spring, she had 1,500 sand bags put in front of her house. The Town delivered a skid of bags for her, and she paid to have them placed, and then taken away. She expects she will have to do the same this year.
But despite the worry, the cost and the work involved, she says, “I love the river. I love watching the birds, the minks in the water, the colours in the fall, even the ice as it goes by. I have to get this fixed.”