Thursday, January 3, 2019 marked two weeks since the devastating windstorm swept through the City that resulted in extensive damage to the Pier, waterfront, and boats along the marina.
According to BC Hydro, the December 20, 2018 storm was the most damaging in the Crown utility’s history making it larger than the August 2015 windstorm that affected the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, and larger than the 2006 windstorm that hit Vancouver Island and devastated Stanley Park in Vancouver.
As a community, we saw firsthand how this storm ravaged our City, in particular, our beloved waterfront. Below are some updates, including a video message from Darryl Walker, Mayor of the City of White Rock that may help answer some of your questions and give you some insight into the work the City undertook during the storm and the work that needs to take place as we recover and rebuild.
BRIEF OVERVIEW: ACTION THE CITY HAS TAKEN SINCE THE DECEMBER 20, 2018 STORM
On December 20, 2018 City staff and contractors were engaged immediately and throughout the night to address continuing and emergent life safety issues during the storm. The initial emergency response included the deployment of White Rock Firefighters and White Rock RCMP.
Below is a summary of what occurred:
City Staff – City staff were on site immediately and continued through the Christmas period, interrupting and/or cancelling their Christmas vacations to:
- Barricaded areas in the interest of public safety.
- Opened an emergency reception centre for residents displaced due to the impact the storm had on their homes, which resulted in them being evacuated. City Staff also helped displaced residents find accommodation until they could return to their home.
- Removed debris from the waterfront, including fuel tanks, life jackets and broken boat components.
- Contacted BNSF Railway and developed plans for mutual assistance.
- Worked with the Environmental consultant to develop repair plans.
- Directed the Marine Salvage operator throughout the Christmas period.
- Worked with various media outlets to address their inquiries and provided updates to the community when information was available.
City staff continue to oversee the coordination of all repairs and approvals.
Marine Salvage Operator – A marine salvage operator was hired during the initial response on Thursday, December 20, 2018 and continues to assist the City. Below are examples of some of the work the Marine Salvage Operator conducted (and continues to do):
- Late in the evening of December 20, 2018, corralled together six floating boats during the event and secured them to the east float.
- Secured boats and removed fuel tanks from the area wherever possible. Fifteen (15) boats sank in the vicinity of the Pier and beach and some are wedged into the Pier.
- Following the initial response, the operator supplied a small barge and excavator and removed hulls and debris.
The operator is continuing to remove large debris broken away from the Pier, and will remove boats late next week as the City needed to give written notice to the insurance companies and owners first, which the City has done. The operator also plans to remove the logs near the water and in the vicinity of the White Rock (P’Quals) in a log boom next week.
Marine Engineers - On Thursday, December 20, 2018 the City hired a Marine Engineering Firm. A team of three Engineers were deployed to White Rock that evening.
- They inspected the Pier, walking on the sand during the low tide late in the evening of December 20, 2018 and early into the next morning to assess the situation and Pier.
- On Friday, December 21, 2018 the Engineers inspected East Beach.
- City Staff and the Marine Engineers worked together to develop short and long-term strategies for both East Beach and the Pier.
- The Marine Engineers contacted various marine construction firms to determine availability, which will govern repair strategies.
- An Environmental consultant was also hired to assist with repair strategies and necessary permitting.
The Marine Engineers were hired on January 2, 2019 to move forward on their initial work and develop designs and estimates for reconstruction of both East Beach and the Pier. You can read their report here.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Question: Is the Pier covered by insurance?
Answer: The Pier is insured and we are working with our insurance broker to confirm coverage under the circumstances. Our discussions have been positive and the City has no reason at this time to believe that the Pier will not be covered by our policy.
Question: When will the Promenade and East Beach be opened to the public?
Answer: The Promenade suffered significant damage. The work plan to restore the Promenade include repairs to the walkway where erosion has occurred and the electrical and irrigation conduits. Log removal is one of the key issues to reopening this area. We have already received environmental approvals to have our excavator operate on the beach and are using contractors to use log booms to remove logs between the White Rock (P’Quals) and the Pier.
Once the logs have been removed from the Promenade and the beach, we will begin the work of repairing the erosion on the shoreline. The erosion is extensive. We are working with BNSF Railway to have large rocks delivered by rail car to East Beach. The rail car will unload these large rocks onto the Promenade, and from there, the rocks will be placed at the shoreline as riprap (rock armour) in order to armour and protect the East Beach shoreline.
Other smaller issues include:
- Some of our concrete picnic tables have been destroyed and will need to be replaced in due course.
- Sections of our fencing have logs pushed through the chain link fencing into the railway ballast. Fencing will have to be repaired or replaced.
As a result, the projected opening of the Promenade and East Beach are:
- From the Pier to the White Rock (P’Quals) – End of February.
- From the White Rock (P’Quals) to Finlay Street - End of April.
Question: What is the cost of repairing the Pier and when will it be rebuilt?
Answer: The preliminary estimate for the Pier rebuild is approximately over $5 million and the shoreline erosion work is estimated to be around $600,000. The City is hopeful that the Pier could possibly be built by the end of this summer.
Question: Has the City reached out to the Government of Canada and/or Government of British Columbia about potential grant opportunities?
Answer: The Mayor and City staff have connected with the Province regarding capital grants for the Pier. The City will be submitting an application to an Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program – British Columbia grant later this month. The City will also seek for grant funding for the Promenade and beach through the Disaster Financial Assistance Fund.