A woman walks past damage along the foreshore in Robert Ostler Park after a severe storm in 2012. City staff is suggesting council temporarily delay a project that would deal with storm erosion.

Downtown flooding bumps Ostler Park improvements down the priority list

Improvements to the city’s downtown Robert Ostler Park – which were scheduled to begin next year – may be put on hold.

That’s because further erosion of the foreshore, as well as flooding issues, have caused city staff to reassess the project.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s parks, recreation and culture manager, is recommending city council temporarily delay upgrades at Ostler Park until the city can get a handle on downtown flooding that is often the result of heavy storms.

The project, which involves replacing the rip rap on the foreshore with an engineered, soft shore beach to prevent erosion, as well as repairs to the underground storm water system, is currently in the design stage. Milnthorp said the conceptual design process identified several modifications that will address future storm-related damage related to increased sea level rise effect. He said that those changes should be considered by both council and the public before the city proceeds with the Ostler Park project construction.

“Several significant challenges have been presented with the design which have led staff to the recommendation that this project be delayed at this time,” Milnthorp said. “It is important that council and the community have an opportunity to consider these changes prior to moving the project into detailed design as the overall impacts to the park will be significant.”

Milnthorp added that the city is in the middle of assessing potential impacts of sea level rise on the entire downtown core. He said that Ostler Park could potentially play a key role in addressing the effects of sea level rise and downtown flood control. A storm sewer running through Ostler Park, for example, is part of the downtown drainage system and needs to be replaced as it is in a compromised state and contributing to drainage capacity issues. Milnthorp said that replacement options could be considered as part of the overall strategy to deal with sea level rise and downtown flood control.

“Therefore, while these solutions are being considered and developed, it is important that the Ostler Park Redevelopment Project be delayed until downtown flood control solutions are identified and approved by council,” Milnthorp said.

Council, at its last Committee of the Whole meeting, voted to hold off on making a decision on the Ostler Park project until after a Nov. 22 Committee of the Whole meeting when city staff is expected to lead a discussion on sea level rise.

If council does go ahead with temporarily delaying the project, it would free up thousands of dollars for the city to put toward other projects.

A total of $1.24 million has been approved by council for the project, with $400,000 of that allocated for the design portion and the remaining $839,000 set aside for construction in 2017.

Milnthorp said $66,078 has already been spent on project designs and city staff are recommending that any remaining funds from the $400,000 design budget be carried over to 2017 to repair the rip rap along the foreshore at Ostler Park.

The $839,000 for construction would simply go back to the reserve accounts that the money was taken from – $125,000 from the Storm Water Capital Reserve for storm projects, $115,000 for parks projects and $599,000 from the Community Works Fund for community enhancement projects.

Milnthorp said the $599,000 could be put towards upgrades and improvements to the city’s Big Rock Boat Ramp if council so wishes.