The city will consider replacing the decaying viewing platform at Dick Murphy Park despite some councillors’ hesitation to spend so much money on designs.
Council mostly spoke against the project – Coun. Ron Kerr even said he was going to make a motion, which never happened, to remove the item from the budget – but Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, confirmed the item is in the 2015 budget.
It comes at a cost of $25,000 for designs on how to rebuild the platform at the north end of the Tyee Spit near Corilair.
Mayor Andy Adams said during the Feb. 25 budget planning session that he thought that price was too high.
“My concern is that at $25,000 that’s for design and not for repairing or construction at all and I find that somewhat unpalatable,” Adams said. “I also know this might be something of interest to service clubs or interest groups around town (to sponsor).
“I find $25,000 a little hard to take.”
Coun. Kerr said he thought it was pointless for the city to take on another viewing platform when the city can just barely keep up with maintenance on the existing bird blind at the opposite end of the Spit.
“I think we have a current lookout to the south that we’re not able to maintain properly so I don’t see at this point any point in putting funds toward a new platform,” Kerr said.
Coun. Larry Samson, who brought the rotting platform to council’s attention last summer and who had previously advocated for a replacement, said he had concerns over what he had been hearing from the float plane operators.
“My understanding is there is some concern from the aviation industry with this and that they weren’t unhappy when it went away,” Samson said. “So when we install something like this, is there consultation?”
Dave Morris, the city’s general manager of facilities, said all stakeholders will be engaged but added that he hadn’t “personally heard that the aviation industry is happy that it went away or in opposition to a new one.”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield, who supported the revival of the viewing platform, said that during a previous term on council he sat as council liaison on a Dick Murphy Park master plan committee and never heard any opposition.
“I never once heard of any complaints,” Cornfield said. “I trust staff would involve all stakeholders with what comes up as a design.”
Cornfield urged council to support the design work.
“I sat for two years on this (committee), which was a full public consultation that came up with what the public wanted to see and I think looking at alternatives that suit the site and the existing condition needs to be done,” Cornfield said. “I am not concerned about the engineering and design, anytime you’re working in tide water those costs are up and I don’t find those costs unrealistic. Without the design, we’re hamstrung.”
While council did defeat a motion to fund the design work from the Parks Parcel Tax, with only councillors Cornfield and Samson in favour, no other action was taken by council on the viewing platform and Milnthorp said Wednesday that left the project on the books.
In November council voted to spend up to $10,000 to remove all of the unsafe elements of the platform, which includes the timber deck platform and guardrails which rest on three log stringers.
The pilings and concrete abutment on shore have been left in place to give the city the option of using them for a new and improved structure.
Staff have estimated the cost to completely re-build the platform to be around $75,000 but there is also a cheaper option of building the smaller viewing platform on shore, rather than extended out over the water.
The platform was inherited by the city more than six years ago during amalgamation of property at the end of Tyee Spit. It previously served as the approachway to a set of floating docks belonging to the previous land owner.
Inspectors discovered severe and widespread fungal decay in the platform’s log stringers and deck last May and deemed it a safety hazard and a liability to the city. It was subsequently cordoned off with caution tape until the city removed the structure a few months ago.