White Rock’s pier could cost “in the range” of $16.2 million to fully restore and rebuild to current construction standards, a consultant hired to assess the damage has determined.
But city staff recommend a phased approach that would see initial repairs to the pier completed by this August for an amount closer to $5 million, council was told Monday.
That approach – and recommended repair strategies – were unanimously endorsed by council.
Council also gave formal approval to an application for grant funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program-Community, Culture and Recreation, submitted on Jan. 23, and committing to the city’s share of project costs ($4,277,195) as outlined in the grant application.
Mayor Darryl Walker said last week the city received advice on seeking this provincially-administrated federal funding from South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordon Hogg and Selina Robinson, B.C. minister of municipal affairs and housing, who toured the pier by boat – and briefly walked on the structure – on Jan. 17.
“They gave no assurances, but did give us more understanding of the process,” Walker said.
According to a report presented to council, the preliminary figure provided by Westmar Advisors is for a steel pile and concrete deck option, and includes such components as the west float, design and construction management, debris clean-up and arches/electrical.
“What was once thought of as more of a repair to certain sections is probably a complete restoration and reconstruction,” chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill said, summarizing overall work necessary.
City engineer Jim Gordon said, however, that replacing the missing portion of the pier, and further repairs south of the gap are the first priority.
“Our main focus is to open the pier by the end of August,” he said. “The $16.2 million is the total reconstruction of the pier, which, I think, would probably take place over a couple of years.
“What we’re pushing to do this year would be to reconstruct the sections in the middle that are destroyed, and also do some other immediately necessary repairs. That would cost approximately $4.6 – let’s say $5 million. That’s this year’s (work).
“The rest of the project, we’re really banking on getting senior government funding, and getting a schedule for that.”
Coun. Helen Fathers asked whether the $7 million insurance on the pier would cover the initial work this year.
“We’re still working with the insurance companies on how much they will cover,” Gordon said.
“It’s typical if there’s an issue that they cover to replace exactly what was there. We feel we can’t do that, that we have to replace to a modern design standard.”
Bottrill said that if the city adds steel piles and a concrete deck that wasn’t there before, “there will definitely be some costs that the city will have to absorb.”
Gordon emphasized that the $16.2 million estimate would include the $4.6 million the city anticipates spending for initial repairs this year.
“That’s step one,” he said.
Should the city opt for a timber pile and deck option for an overall rebuild of the pier, the estimate drops to $14.1 million, the report notes.
Westmar was hired by the city on an emergency basis on Dec. 20, the day a violent windstorm resulted in the city’s iconic pier splitting in two.
The following day, the city’s mayor predicted the cost of fixing the structure would “probably be in the millions.”
“It’s very easy for projects these days to run to that kind of money,” Walker said.
Last week Walker said the $16.2 million estimate is “probably pretty close to what we’re going to have,” noting that he is not too surprised at it.
“I suspected it would take us in that direction,” he said. “A piece of any restoration (project) is that you’re dealing with the unknown. If you’re putting in a new pier, you’d pretty much have an idea what it would cost, but when you’re restoring something, you can go into a wall and not know what you’re getting into.”
Walker said the city must balance restoring the pier in a form that residents – and others from across the Lower Mainland – recognize and love, while rebuilding with sufficient strength and durability to take into account climate change and ensure that it will “still be around another 50 years from now.”
“Now that we’re into it, why wouldn’t we want to rebuild it to protect ourselves for the future?” he said.
Insurance on the pier is based on replacing the existing structure, he said, “but we will be up-front with our insurers that we would be adding to it.”
“We can’t go back to the old creosote pilings for environmental reasons, for one thing.”
Whatever the case, Walker said, the city will try to maintain the traditional, iconic look of the pier, down to wooden planking and handrails – although the latter will probably require a special building code dispensation.
“Whatever it looks like it’s going to have that lovely wooden appearance,” he said.
– with files from Tracy Holmes