Council debates dredging

Marina: Clearing out silt an expensive undertaking.

Wharf: City council reduced the amount put into reserve for future dredging of the marina area

One big-ticket item in the city’s future is the dredging of the Salmon Arm wharf and marina area.

City council discussed the state of the bay during budget deliberations, because $30,000 was initially earmarked to add to the dredging reserve.

At this point, the city has about $460,000 in reserve for the project, much less than is needed.

Back in 2003, the project was estimated to cost about a million, and city staff said today’s cost would be well over that amount.

Rob Niewenhuizen, director of public works, told council a survey was done to see how the silt build-up compares to that in 2003.

“It shows we probably have an additional foot-and-a-half of silt on the bottom from 2003,” he said, explaining a dredging design must be completed, including what the slopes are and where the dredged material should be placed.

He said no date has been determined for dredging, but “I think if it silts in more, we won’t be able to use it and it may be pushed up even further.”

He said a preliminary investigation has been done regarding material dredged, and senior levels of government won’t allow the creation of another Christmas Island.

In trying to trim the 2016 budget and corresponding tax increase, Const. Ken Jamieson suggested the amount added to the reserve be $5,000 instead of $30,000. He said the project will likely be a couple of million dollars and it will be at least a couple of years before approvals from various ministries are received, so a reduction in 2016 funds wouldn’t have a big impact.

Coun. Chad Eliason spoke against the plan.

“If 12 years ago it was over a million, and we’re funding at $5,000 a year, we will never get there,” he said, adding there doesn’t seem to be a program or grant available to assist with funding. He said the community loses access to the wharf in the fall because of silt, and the city has received pressure before regarding dredging.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said she doesn’t want to see the wharf torn down, and asked what is reasonable in terms of the Ministry of Environment and climate change. Niewenhuizen said he is assuming the ministry will say dredging is okay as long as guidelines are followed.

Jamieson said he’s not suggesting that contributing to the dredging reserve be stopped in 2016, but that it simply be slowed down.

“Is $30,000 versus $5,000 really going to make a difference at the far end of the program?”

Niewenhuizen said he thinks dredging was last done in 1992.

Coun. Kevin Flynn asked if the amount of silt coming in immediately after dredging is fairly significant, and Niewenhuizen said yes, the bottom of the bay will silt in.

Flynn referred to finding a balance between contributions from current and future taxpayers. He said if the dredging was done 23 years ago, he would not have a problem borrowing for the work, given that it would last for another extended period.

The motion to reduce the reserve contribution in 2016 to $5,000 passed, with Mayor Nancy Cooper and Couns. Eliason and Tim Lavery opposed.

The 2016 budget also includes improvements to the marina ramp area and electrical work such as lighting and electrical boxes. The city is planning marina pier improvements in 2017, pending budget approval.


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