Waves undermine rip rap

The seawalk along Robert Ostler Park in Campbell River will be lost to erosion if the rip rap protection along the beach is not replaced

A woman walks past the foreshore damage in Robert Ostler Park

The seawalk along Robert Ostler (formerly Foreshore) Park will be lost to erosion if the rip rap protection along the beach is not replaced, say city staff.

Recent storms, particularly the powerful wind storm on March 12, have revealed cracks in the rip rap armour – the parks only protection from the ocean.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, culture and recreation, outlined his concerns in a report to city council.

“The last two storms have caused significant damage to Ostler Park due to the failure of the foreshore armouring (rocks),” Milnthorp wrote. “The severe wave action of the storms has undermined the rip rap causing the armouring to slump into the water.”

As a consequence, the bank along the edge of the park is eroding and in the process, undermining the seawalk and allowing high waves to throw debris and water up onto the park.

There has already been significant damage to picnic benches and tables in the park, and Milnthorp warns it will only get worse unless the city finds a solution.

City Manager Andy Laidlaw recommended council allocate $60,000 from the Parks Parcel Tax to hire a consultant to design an engineered solution to the failure of the rip rap, whether it be replacing the rip rap, creating a softshore, or a hybrid of the two.

Laidlaw told council on Tuesday night that any design would ultimately have to be approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Mayor Walter Jakeway said he had done his own investigating and Laidlaw and Milnthorp were asking for far too much.

“I did a little checking around this morning and I find $60,000 outrageous,” Jakeway said. “I talked with someone who deals with these kind of repairs and it’s ten times too high. I think we’re taking on a huge cost we don’t need.”

Laidlaw admitted he couldn’t tell council what the exact cost would be, or how staff came up with $60,000 because Milnthorp was not at Tuesday’s meeting. He did say that staff was “hoping it would be significantly less than that.”

Laidlaw also couldn’t say what the clean-up cost would be.

Coun. Claire Moglove would not support spending the money without knowing exact figures.

“I’m reluctant to go out and spend $60,000 when I don’t know what it costs to clean-up the park on a case-by-case basis,” she said. “I think it’s premature.”

Coun. Andy Adams tried to find the middle ground and tabled a motion to hold off on hiring a consultant until city can come back with a quote on the engineering that’s needed to either fix or replace the rip rap.