Pending repairs to Sidney’s Beacon Wharf could extend its life by three to six years, but also impact local tourism.
These findings appear in a report councillors received before approving more than $96,000 minus taxes on additional repairs to the wharf. Council signed off on the repairs after a consulting company recommended approval of the bid from Duncan-based Pacific Industrial and Marine. An accompanying staff report prepared before the final recommendation from the consulting company had a tone of urgency and a note of warning.
“If this repair does not proceed, the wharf may become unsafe for use and public access may need to be restricted,” said Jenn Clary, Sidney’s director of engineering, in telling councillors that it might be “advantageous” to approve the project sooner than the next available council meeting on Dec. 16, as some of the required material have long lead times.
“If the award cannot be made until the next [council] meeting of Dec. 16, the project may not finish until mid-April 2020,” she said. “Because the wharf will be closed during construction, this could negatively impact tourists visiting Sidney and the businesses operating on the wharf.”
It is not clear yet when the project would wrap up under the new schedule and whether the new schedule would minimize the potential effects described in the report.
The repairs themselves promise to extend the life of the wharf by three to six years, buying Sidney some time to determine the fate of the structure, a popular tourism destination, but also a place of business and launch point for the passenger-only, seasonal ferry servicing Sidney Island and Sidney Spit part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
Clary said in her report that Sidney is currently working with a consultant to study replacement of the wharf because of its condition and on-going maintenance costs.
Clary said the public can expect a full report in early 2020, but already warns of sticker-shock.
“Replacing the wharf will be a costly and complicated project that will likely require public input prior to proceeding,” she said.
The pending repairs with a total budget of $150,000 come after Sidney had spent $275,000 in 2012 to provisionally repair the wharf with an eye towards a full repair or full replacement after having assumed ownership of it in 2006 from the federal government. Then-mayor Larry Cross said in 2012 that the repairs would buy Sidney another five to 10 years to study various options.
These figures now appear optimistic. Reviewing the history of the wharf, a 2018 report said the 2012 repairs promised to make the wharf safe for “five to eight years.”
Clary said in an email to follow up questions from the Peninsula News Review that Sidney is currently in the process of awarding the contract.
“We can provide more information after the contract is in place,” she said.
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