Port Elgin breakwall to be labeled a safety risk for pedestrians?
by Sandy Lindsay

January 25, 2017

Town Council

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Future of the breakwall at Port Elgin Harbour ?

In a recent information report by Community Services, it appears that the Port Elgin Main Beach Breakwall is causing several concerns around its safety.

Although owned by the Federal Government, under the Harbour Agreement, the municipality is responsible for its maintenance and, despite attempts at negotiating with the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to undertake improvements, the government has declined.

Town staff presented the concerns to the Waterfront Advisory Committee with two potential options:

  • repair the existing infrastructure

  • close the breakwall off to pedestrians

According to staff, a number of communities have gone with option two and fenced off their breakwalls and that it should be an option to be considered.

In 1996, Public Works and Government Services Canada, inspected and reported that the breakwall at that time that most of the wall was in fair to good condition with some areas in poor to fair condition.

Deteriorating concrete

The condition is deteriorating thanks to harsh winters and there are holes, rebar and trip hazards, ledges and 1 slab has moved about 10+ inches. Much of the concrete is in deteriorating condition both on the knee walls and on the walk-way breakwall

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

Staff has reported that the town's insurance provider has "highly recommended that to reduce risk for all patrons the breakwall should be barricaded from future usage to reduce the possibility of potential liability."

Staff reported that it appreciates "...the fact that the breakwall is a popular destination for many and certainly conjures up fond memories of bygone days at the the beach in Port Elgin ... the breakwall was not intended for usage of pedestrian enjoyment however, safety of patrons utilizing the breakwall for quiet enjoyment or water sports, is paramount in the eyes of staff."

The breakwall was assumed to be constructed as a shelter for boats.  In the report, staff says that from a "Harbour perspective, the south breakwall may be removed or allowed to deteriorate without impacting Harbour operations."  However, significant and costly underwater repairs are not warranted.

Conversations with DFO are expected to continue ... "until both parties have agreed on a fiscally responsible recommendation to be delivered to Council."

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017