Plans for a long-awaited replacement for the floating west wharf of White Rock pier – formerly used for mooring boats, but destroyed in the storm of December 2018 – are still tied to planning for a full rebuild of the pier itself.
That was the message to White Rock council from engineering and municipal operations director Jim Gordon, at council’s last pre-summer break meeting, on July 27.
City communications manager Donna Kell has confirmed that while some $11 million has been included in the 2020-24 capital plan for overall restoration of the structure – in anticipation of “federal and provincial grants, fundraising proceeds and possible community amenity contributions” – the absence of approval of federal and provincial funding to this point means the city needs to review its long-range financial plan for the pier.
The community-based Friends of the Pier fundraising group donated $400,000 to the city on Feb. 10; the issue of pier restoration will be revisited in council discussions in September, Kell said.
The most recent conversation in council was prompted by a presentation to council by Gary Gumley, founder of the White Rock Festival of Lights, who asked that the city “investigate completing the reconstruction of a public access recreational float facility on the west side of the pier.”
Gumley noted his understanding that “a $330,000 insurance policy amount for the destroyed float on the west side of the pier must be spent by Dec. 31.”
“White Rock desperately needs more public waterfront recreational activities,and it would be very important to try to take advantage of the opportunity to spend this money on repairing, or reproducing, the float on the west side of the pier.”
But Gordon said planning for the floating wharf requires balancing a cash insurance payout in the short term with future needs of the pier.
“What we really wanted to do, ideally, was re-build the wharf with the new pier,” Gordon told council.
“They could tie in together nicely and it would also permit an access ramp for those with disabilities. The challenge is to build something in the interim.”
Gordon said staff have already asked the city’s marine consultant to prepare some options for rebuilding the wharf.
“Something that could scale-up (when we rebuild the pier),” Gordon added.
“We plan to come back to council in September with those options. Hopefully council would select one one of them, and then we could put together a request for proposals and enter a contract by the end of the year.”
Financial services director Colleen Ponzini said that the city’s insurance policy guarantees a cash value of $220,000 towards the $330,000 Gumley mentioned, but that accessing further funds would be dependent on what is going to be built by the city, how it is built, what it would require and whether it would it all be insurable.
She confirmed that the policy is set to expire at the end of this year.
“It requires that the city have a contract to rebuild in place by Dec. 31,” she said.