By Geoffrey Agombar
The Margaretsville Wharf Society attended the Annapolis County Committee of the Whole September 9th to report on the status of the damaged Margaretsville Wharf.
Society president Kim Connell disclosed that local contractor B. Spicer Construction has confirmed that the wharf is repairable, that the damage is isolated to a 10- metre section, and that the necessary repairs can be completed in just three weeks for $76,000 – less time and money than initially feared.
That is the good news.
The bad news: If repairs are not completed before winter weather arrives, the damage could spread and the cost of repair would increase accordingly. Therefore, the work should begin before the end of October, and the society does not know where to get its hands on the funds required to complete the job. “We do have money in the bank. Say, 20-30 per cent of what’s needed to do the work. But we can’t spend that because it would wipe out our funds and we wouldn’t be able to pay for annual maintenance and upkeep,” said Connell after the meeting. “For example, we have a $4000 insurance bill due just next week.”
Unfortunately, Connell says there will be no insurance payout related to the recent collapse.
Connell stressed to council that the wharf is a centerpiece of community life as well as a tourist attraction. In no uncertain terms, Connell felt “This is an emergency,” adding, “I feel very strongly, that if it can be fixed – and it can – then, it has to be fixed.”
The society plans to do fundraising to contribute to the repair, “But we can’t cover all the costs, and we don’t have time to waste,” said Connell.
Annapolis County Warden Peter Newton assured wharf society members that “We have a policy in place to fund wharf repair. And, I think council will agree, we will certainly do what we can to help.”
Two motions related to the Margaretsville situation were passed at the September 16 council meeting: first, to provide letters in support of emergency funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and more importantly, to approve proposed amendments to wharf funding policies which could allow council to contribute as much as $10,000 to the Margaretsville repairs.
The wharf society can apply for that funding at council's next committee of the whole meeting. If the committee recommends releasing the funds to the Margaretsville wharf, the earliest it could approve the motion would be at its regular council meeting in mid-October.
Dawn Campbell, assistant to the municipal CAO, explains that the proposed amendments are not a reaction to the Margaretsville collapse. They are the result of year-long discussions with the county’s seven harbour authorities.
The amendments are designed with two goals in mind: to improve county participation in ongoing upkeep and repair, and provide flexibility to contribute ‘seed money’ to leverage senior government funding of larger capital investments. Campbell says, “Senior government funding is normally provided “project specific” and usually a percentage (for example, 85 per cent) of the lowest bid to do a specific project.”
The Margaretsville repairs is considered a major capital project, which could qualify for a county grant that “shall not normally exceed the lesser of 10 per cent of the cost of the capital project or $10,000” under the proposed amended regulations.
At this stage, the society continues to await response from federal and provincial agencies.
Society representative Sherry Nichols revealed that the state of disrepair of the collapsed section was previously known to the society and to county staff. Throughout discussions with council and the other wharves, repair of this specific section had always been “at the top of our wish list,” and she felt that the state of these 10 metres was and remains the most critical problem faced by any of the county’s wharves.
Margaretsville Wharf: Good news/bad news
Repairs less costly than feared, but where will the money come from?
By Geoffrey Agombar
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