File photo Winter weather and an archaeological impact assessment have slowed progress on the Memorial Park upgrade project at the waterfront.

White Rock’s Memorial Park work moves ahead – slowly

Partial completion of waterfront upgrade expected by the end of July

White Rock chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill admits some frustration at progress of the city’s Memorial Park upgrade at the waterfront.

But he said that it still seems to be on track for partial completion by this summer.

“The best guess – and I don’t think that’s changed – is that we’ll have the portion west of the staircase (above the pier) pretty much completed by the end of July,” he told Peace Arch News last week.

“It’s moving, but not as fast as I’d like. Every construction project takes more time than you’d want, but we’ve got some decent weather right now.

“Hopefully we’ll be looking at demolition of the old washrooms soon.”

Winter weather, and the process of evaluation of potential historic sites by archaelogists representing the city, Semiahmoo First Nation and other regional First Nations, have inevitably slowed progress, Bottrill said.

The official launch of the $5.5 million project was stalled in September when Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell and councillors Joanne and Roxanne Charles presented Mayor Wayne Baldwin with a cease-and-desist letter, calling for consultation on the project, which is on SFN ancestral lands.

In December the city received a provincial archaelogical permit to carry out an archaelogical impact assessment at the site, east of the White Rock Museum and Archives, following months of consultation with SFN and the province.

In January, part of a shell midden – including archaelogically significant deposits of charcoal and animal bones and other debris from early inhabitants – was discovered during digging to locate utility lines at the site.

But Bottrill said no significant archaeological finds have been made since then, and work is continuing at the site.

“There is no question that the project was delayed by about three or four months in terms of being able to complete it,” he said, adding “it is what it is.”

Minus a firm completion date for the first phase of Memorial Park work, the city has developed alternative plans for Canada Day By The Bay, the TD Concerts at the Pier series and the Sea Festival, shifting the main stage to East Beach.

The Tour de White Rock cycling road race will still include Marine Drive, as construction will not impinge on the road itself.

Plans for the Peace Arch Hospital Foundaton’s Picnic on the Pier fundraiser – usually scheduled for the waterfront second week in August – have yet to be announced.

The completed project will include a new flexible plaza space, public art, amphitheatre seating, built-in lighting, enlarged washrooms, a children’s water-spray pad and a wider promenade in the area, which reaches from the east side of the Mueseum and Archives to the current parking lot to the east of the existing washrooms.

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