The Town Talk Beacon Wharf Special Edition, while colourful and somewhat informative, should be read more than once for it has a definite bias towards one of two options. The limited number of options aside, we must first look at the slanted language. Discussion of the existing wharf includes “significant work necessary, rebuilding is not considered a viable option, rehabilitation would likely be in the millions, winter storm wave risks to life and property.” At the top of page 4, we are told that “the only two options remaining were a floating structure, or not replacing the wharf at all.” Does anyone else get the feeling that there is some pressure here to agree to a floating option?
One of the highlights of the private-public partnership (floating) option is a two-level structure consisting of a hotel, restaurant and two commercial spaces, “one of which would be given to the town.” This single town-owned space is “potentially for a public washroom.” Is that all there is for the town … a washroom? The rest of the floating wharf appears to be just another private commercial development.
But who pays for the maintenance of the pontoon? Manufacturers of concrete pontoons, using modern technology, claim that the general life span of a properly designed and maintained concrete dock is 50-plus years. The pontoon that may be donated to Sidney is already 60 years old. And SNC Lavalin was asked to estimate the life-cycle cost of this aging concrete over another 50 years. I wonder how much wave action this former piece of the Hood Canal Bridge experienced since 1961.
Lastly, we look at the project costs. Notice how the costs for the floating option are compared to three options that were already deemed as rejected. That leaves Sidney residents one option. Well, maybe there is some lip service to the idea of a “reimagined waterfront,” but the language used lacks enthusiasm and imagination. An artist’s impression of a reimagined Sidney waterfront would have shown more respect for local residents than two random stock photos.
Let’s hope that Sidney residents actively engage in discussion about the future of the wharf and their vision of the town’s waterfront. There are always more than two options in life.