City of White Rock staff are hopeful that work on the Memorial Park upgrade at the waterfront can be completed at least halfway by Canada Day.
But that’s not likely to include the staircase down to the pier or rebuilding of the washrooms, according to chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill, and staff are also assembling back-up plans for shifting select popular summertime events to East Beach for this year.
“We’ve done some non-destructive work at the site and the archeological-impact assessment is continuing,” he told Peace Arch News last week.
“As we expected, the archeological impact work is turning up nothing – it’s just fill.”
Work, which began in September, was suspended as a result of a cease-and-desist order from Semiahmoo First Nation, who cited inadequate consultation over plans for the site, considered ancestral SFN territory, and called for an archeological-impact assessment.
“At this point, we’re reworking the schedule with our construction company to try to figure out what we’re looking at,” Bottrill said. “We’re hopeful we can still hit the July 1 target for the western portion of the plan, which is mainly the landscaping and the plaza area. But the washrooms and staircase and the other patio on the eastern side are going to to take more time.”
Recreation and culture director Eric Stepura told PAN that, minus a firm date on completion of the phases of work, his staff is working out alternative plans for Canada Day by the Bay, the TD Concerts at the Pier series and August long-weekend Sea Festival, “and, possibly, other events.”
“We’re thinking in terms in terms of relocating the main stage to the parking lot just east of Totem Park plaza – that’s our back-up plan in case Memorial Park is not ready in time,” Stepura said.
Bottrill also said there was no intention to relocate the annual Tour de White Rock cycling road race, scheduled for July 14 and 15, off Marine Drive.
“Absolutely not,” he told PAN. “That’s an elite event in White Rock that has been going on for many, many years and we’re not going to mess with that. We would be taking that event into consideration with any kind of work we did near the roadway. There’s no way we are messing with that.”
The Picnic on the Pier fundraiser for the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation co-ordinated by Landmark Premiere Properties – which raised more than $56,000 in its second year in 2017 –is usually scheduled for the waterfront on a week night in the second week of August.
Foundation public relations director Vicki Brydon said that, in light of Memorial Park construction, access to the pier, wheelchair accessibility and washroom availability would be key logistical challenges for the event, but said she is optimistic that it can still go forward this year.
“We’re very motivated to work with the city to find solutions so that Picnic on the Pier 2018 can be a reality,” she said.
The Memorial Park project – budgeted at some $5.5 million in total – is planned to provide 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.