Projected work in the Dock Area could be finished this summer, or it could take until 2029 to complete.
The decision is one for council to make, and depends on funding, environment supervisor Brett Ruck told councillors last week.
But the issue of flooding is becoming more of an issue than soil erosion, he said Tuesday.
In an update on what still needs to be done along the waterfront, with a total cost estimate of $1.2 million, Ruck said if the Town is willing to debenture the amount and move ahead with the work, it could be finished by this summer. Or it could plan to complete it as reserves are built up and funding is available, which means it would take another nine years to be finished, he said.
Some of the work that was expected to be done by March, with money in the budget to pay for it, is now on hold until mid-July, Ruck said. It involved a groyne, or stone wall, in the water, to act as a breakwater.
The provincial permit won’t allow for work to be done in the water during fish spawning, which begins March 1, and although Ruck was set to move forward, an unexpected marine archaeological assessment turned up no artifacts, but did find a hole, or pocket, off the edge of the existing groyne, where the new stones would be placed. Filling that in will take time, Ruck said, and will delay the project.
Ron Simkus, waterfront resident and mining engineer who keeps tabs on water levels, says on Jan. 24, he saw an archeologist wading into the water by the Old Railway Culvert with some submersible equipment for photography. In his email blast to about 100 people, Simkus says, “I talked to him and pointed to the eastern edge of the rock headland in front of us. That structure has been in place for 14 years but, for some reason, appeared to be collapsing into the lake over the last 12 months.”
He asked the archeologist to look to see if there was a drop-off in the lake bottom, and pass on his observation to town staff.
He did, and the result, fortunately, said Simkus, is the delay of the groyne installation.
“Forget about the groyne, and stop spending precious tax dollars” on trying to patch up something for a concept that has become “outdated and enormously expensive,” he said in his email.
Burying the anchor stone wall will replace the expensive bladders the Town used last year, he added.
That work is also detailed in Ruck’s report, which includes the partial burying of more anchor stone on shore, and placing cobble along the shoreline to protect it.
Doing the in-water work in July means doing it in high water, Ruck told councillors. “We’re just going to have to deal with it.”
The information report said the two projects alone, burying anchor stone on shore and placing it in the water, are estimated to cost about $160,000.
Ruck said there is $260,000 in the 2020 budget, which includes those two projects and a feasibility study on some of the other work that needs to be completed.
When asked by councillors if there were other funding options, he said he wanted to see what they have to say about the two he is presenting.
The advantage of the debenture is getting the work done quickly, he says, while a plus of planning it over coming years would allow time to apply for grants to help fund it.
Doing it now would mean relying on whatever grant might be available for this year, he added.
Other work to be completed on the parkette, including more shoreline stabilization, and flooding protection for low-lying areas, which involves a much-discussed rain garden to collect water, is estimated to cost about $300,000. Adding work that needs to be done to Riverbeach Park, Melville Street, Nelson Street Park, a pump feasibility study, and the wall in front of the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, which the Town hasn’t yet addressed, brings the estimated cost to about $1.2 million.
Ruck won’t have the complete costs until the feasibility study is completed and all the numbers are in, and councillors won’t be expected to make a decision about funding until they have the report in front of them.