When I saw the $100,000 for a West Breakwater Environmental Assessment initiation
in the Central Elgin 2014 Harbour Budget, after all the extensive work already done
by CH2MHill and Riggs Engineering, I have to wonder if endless repetitive studies
are how the Harbour Fund will eventually be frittered away - with nothing but crumbling
infrastructure to show for the money spent.
The Port Stanley Harbour Risk Assessment completed by CH2MHill had a draft report
in November 2010 of 205 pages. That report included the West Breakwater and did
not identify any contaminants or environmental threats from the West Breakwater
structures. Since that draft report was released there have been numerous public
meetings, public input and revisions, and no change in the way the West Breakwater
is used. Aside from the continuing and rapidly deteriorating state of the West Breakwater,
could the environmental conditions have changed so dramatically since the revised
report presented in the fall of 2013 as to require yet another Environmental Assessment
of it before any repairs can be made?
On page 25 of the draft report it states that "PAHs have been identified as a major
contamination concern which could affect water quality within the Lower Kettle Creek
bed sediments at Port Stanley. Two main areas within Lower Kettle Creek, downstream
of the George Street Drain in Port Stanley and adjacent to former petroleum tank
farms, have been identified as containing contaminated sediments. Several studies
have investigated the extent and severity of the contamination. These studies have
shown that the area furthest downstream is significantly contaminated and will continue
to be a chronic source of pollution for the waterway if cleanup measures are not
taken (KCCA as cited in Dennison, 2008). Recently, the MOE has concluded that this
area does not pose a threat to downstream soil or surface water quality (MOE, 2010)."
It does not identify the West Breakwater as a source of contamination; rather,
the study pegs any contamination source in that area as being in the West Pier and
migrating on-site through the groundwater from adjacent privately owned properties
(McAsphalt and Lakes Terminal Warehousing domes), or coming downstream from Kettle
But Central Elgin Council has approved spending another $100,000 to do the Environmental
Assessment on the West Breakwater again, less than a year after CH2MHill
completed that very report. What could they possibly be planning for the West Breakwater
that would require another Environmental Assessment so soon after the one completed
In the spring of 2007 Riggs Engineering Ltd. undertook a Routine Detailed Inspection
(RDI) of Port Stanley harbour infrastructure, on behalf of Public Works and Government
Services Canada (PWGSC) and Transport Canada. Watech Services Inc. was retained
as a sub-consultant and carried out an inspection of the underwater components of
the structures. That report is 328 pages long and includes the West Breakwater.
It determined the useful residual life (URL) of the major structural components
such as concrete and steel sheet piling. With no repairs being undertaken, the West
Breakwater was determined to have a URL without being in danger of total collapse
of 15 years (from 2007).
The report identifies the West Breakwater as containing 3 structures (Original West
Breakwater, West Breakwater Extension and West Checkwater) with the Original West
Breakwater commencing at the south end, and offers three costed repair options with
in-depth detail of current conditions, what is to be repaired and how:
Option 1: Repairs to the West Breakwater Rubble Mound Revetment involves
surrounding the perimeter with a stone talus, which is divided into three layers
starting with core stone at the bottom of the harbour. Above the core stone is a
layer of filter stone and above the filter stone is a layer of armour stone. Cost:
Option 2: West Breakwater Rubble Crib Hybrid consists of concrete overlay,
repair of the damaged timber and eventually encapsulating the perimeter of the breakwaters
with a stone talus similar to Option 1. Cost: $4,856,805
Option 3: West Breakwater Steel Sheet Pile Encapsulation entails installing
steel sheet piling around the entire perimeter of the breakwater and concrete overlay.
Now the existence of the West Breakwater is the very structure which has caused
the accretion of Main Beach, giving us that wide expanse of Blue Flag beach that
is Port Stanley's main tourist draw. Without the West Breakwater, Main Beach would
be much smaller or even non-existent. It is certainly a much skinner strip of sand
in the photos I have of it from the 1920's and 1930's.
When the municipality already has an engineering report stating exactly what needs
to be done to repair the West Breakwater and how much it will cost, and an Environmental
Assessment on the West Breakwater that isn't even 6 months old, why spend/waste
$100,000 for another EA to tell them what is already known?
I can understand the $1 million budgeted for the much-needed, often-requested and
long-awaited harbour dredging. "A 1987 federal government study concluded that 55,000
m3 of sediment was required to be annually dredged from Port Stanley Harbour to
keep the harbour at commercial shipping depths. Of this volume, 25 percent was attributed
to siltation of the harbour mouth originating from Lake Erie and the rest (41,000
cubic metres) coming from the Kettle Creek watershed (KCCA as cited in Dennison,
2008)." - CH2MHill.
I can understand the $200,000 budgeted for a recreational public boat launch to
replace the one they took away. I can understand the $500,000 pegged for breakwater
repairs and maintenance even if they don't say which breakwater or what repairs
and maintenance they have in mind that will cost so much money.
But where I get worried is when I see $100,000 slated for the repeat of a study
just completed. Will Central Elgin Council fritter away the bulk of our Harbour
Fund on endless, repetitive and unnecessary studies? Will we end up with an empty
bank account and nothing to show for it but crumbling infrastructure we cannot afford
to ever repair? Is this all the promise of harbour divestiture is to be?