Sidney has approved what could end up being a six-figure dollar amount for additional work on the Beacon Wharf project.
Council unanimously approved up to $100,000 for additional consulting, engagement and technical investigation as the municipality ponders the future of the aging infrastructure.
The Sidney wharf is approaching the end of its life – within 10 years – and four broad options have emerged for its future: replacement with a rock base; replacement with a piled structure; replacement with a floating structure; and no replacement at all.
Coun. Peter Wainright, one of three councillors on a committee looking at the wharf options, said the additional funding (out of municipal reserves) responds to the need for more information.
“Yes, there are some things that have come up during the process that we hadn’t originally thought about, so for example the floating structure option,” he said. “We recognize that we need to have some geotechnical work done, actually for all of the options, because we are looking at pile driving for some of the options. [And] if we go with the floating structure option, again there is some pile driving involved, but there is also some dredging involved to get the minimum water depth for the floating option.”
The public heard that the previous consulting work had collated all previously existing reports.
Estimated costs for the geo-technical work was $60,000, said Wainwright, adding that the requested amount offers some flexibility. Funds will also go toward community engagement (with the proviso that the COVID-19 pandemic might impact its nature) and measuring wave actions, which could take place this winter or next, he said.
Staff also said the money could be used to look into the costs of removing the wharf. A report to the committee pegged the potential maximum cost of removal at $2 million with the disclaimer that the figure is “purely illustrative.”
Lamenting the absence of this disclaimer from a recent Peninsula News Review article on this subject, Andrew Hicik, Sidney’s director of corporate services and chief financial officer, said the number is “speculative.”
“So when we put an estimate for $2 million for the removal of the wharf, it really doesn’t have any basis in fact,” he said.
When the Peninsula News Review asked the municipality asked about those comments, Randy Humble, chief administrative officer, said the numbers were “loosely based on information previously provided by the consultant, and were not at all intended as definitive costs of the various options.”
He said the purpose of the “extremely brief staff report” from which the figures came was to illustrate how the eventual options may be presented for consultation, once the committee has narrowed them down. “It was an effort to create a template (a decision matrix) for future consultation, not to present fully costed options,” he said.
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