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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  News Is It Time To Spend More Harbour Divestiture Money On Fixing Port Stanley's Harbour?


by Doug Harvey

Is It Time To Spend More Harbour Divestiture Money On Fixing Port Stanley's Harbour?

Port Stanley has had a working harbour since 1832 and that was mostly due at that time to a growing commercial trade and a demand for an easily accessible and secure port on Lake Erie. The Port Stanley Harbour began as a harbour designed for larger ships with a wide entrance that led directly into a varied selection of dockage areas that suited the type of shipment being delivered. Through the years several changes were made to Port Stanley's Harbour of which made way for even larger ships that needed an even wider entrance to safely enter and exit the harbour.

Today Port Stanley's Harbour is owned and operated by the Municipality of Central Elgin through a Harbour Divestiture Agreement finalized on September 8, 2010 with the Canadian Government. The deal involved a transfer contribution of $13.6 million, "to be used exclusively to cover operational costs and maintain the port's infrastructure", and 64.5 hectares land (of which 52.8 hectares are harbour bed), two breakwaters, two piers and a building. [In 2007 Riggs Engineering said it would cost roughly $10 million to repair the infrastructure of the harbour.] Transport Canada would also complete an environmental risk assessment and remediation of the berm to parkland standards and would continue to hold environmental liability should something crop up in the future in relation to their stewardship of the land while it was under their ownership.

From that day forward Port Stanley's Harbour would become the sole responsibility of the Municipality of Central Elgin to manage and improve using the Federal Government's Harbour Divestiture contribution of $13.6 million. Even though Port Stanley's Harbour has great potential for many things, history reminds us that the Harbour has always lost money. Only time will tell how Central Elgin's management skills will be judged on whether the Port Stanley Harbour will become a blessing or a burden to the taxpayers of the Municipality of Central Elgin.

On July 22nd, 2019 Report PW-31-19 Port Stanley Harbour, High Water Level Mitigation Measures prepared by Lloyd Perrin, Director of Physical Services was presented to Council which should be a concern to taxpayers. The following report is available below to better understand the state of the Port Stanley Harbour and to a new set of issues that have started another round of spending from the Harbour Divestiture Fund.

Fish Tug hits Bridge

Report PW-31-19 Port Stanley Harbour, High Water Level Mitigation Measures

With the record snowfall and ongoing precipitation in the Great Lakes Basin the water levels in all of the Great Lakes are at a record high. As of July 16th, 2019 the daily mean elevation of Lake Erie is 175.13. This is approximately 0.80 meters above the historic average elevation of Lake Erie. The current elevation is also 9 cm above the previous record high water level that occurred in 1986. We would also note that the water level is currently 5 cm lower than what occurred last week. It is anticipated that lake levels will decrease marginally based on seasonal decline resulting from what is typically hotter, drier weather during summer months.

These high water levels are a concern to both Kettle Creek Conservation Authority KCCA and municipal staff due to the possibility of lake uprush flooding. This type of flooding occurs when winds are out of the south (on shore) causing water to be pushed from the southerly shoreline of Lake Erie to the north shore. Depending on the wind velocity these winds can cause substantial wave action along the shoreline as well as in the Port Stanley Harbour. As a result of this wave action lake water can run inland and cause localized flooding. In 1986 when the elevation of Lake Erie was 175.05 meters the wave uprush reached north of Edit Cavell Blvd. with localized flooding of Edith Cavell, Bessie, Maud, William St, West Edith Cavell Blvd.

On June 25th, 2019 KCCA and Central Elgin held a public information session for the public to educate about wave uprush flooding and stress to residents to keep the floodway and floodplain clear of loose objects such as lawn furniture, canoes etc. We would note that the event was fairly well attended and received positive feed back from those attending.

Mitigation Measures Implemented or Underway:

  • 1. Sealing of Manholes in Sanitary Sewer System — This is currently underway. Sanitary manholes will be sealed to prevent any storm water that sits over the manhole lids is restricted from entering into the sanitary collection system. These seals will reduce the amount of "clean" surface water that is pushed inland from needing to be pumped (energy costs) to the waste water treatment plant and then treated (energy, chemical costs).
  • 2. Nurturing of beach dunes on municipally owned lake front property — over the past 3 years the municipality has encouraged and nurtured natural dunes on beach front property owned by the municipality. These dunes are a natural barrier to lake uprush flooding. The municipality and conservation authority continues to encourage private property owners that have beach front property to encourage natural dunes on their property for this reason.
  • 3. Ongoing Public education regarding Dune Management and encouragement on private property.

Mitigation Measures for Council Consideration;

With the unusually high water level there is limited distance between the water level and the top of the east pier. When the wind comes out of the south or south southeast there is typically a surge that runs up the creek and results in very rough water. This is due to the mouth of the harbour not being protected by a breakwater. In the past staff have been called to site when there are waves in excess of 1 meter in the harbour. In 2018 one event occurred whereby the waves were large enough that it caused fish tugs mooring lines to break and one vessel was floating adjacent to the lift bridge and causing damage. Damage was also sustained to the municipal infrastructure that supports the harbour (ie. Sea wall). With the limited 'free board' (.2 metres ) between the water level and top of pier, staff have a concern about these storm events causing damage to municipal property as well as adjacent lands. Central Elgin and KCCA staff met with Brian Riggs, P. Eng. of Riggs Engineering to discuss potential measures that could be put in place in the harbour to assist in dissipating the wave energy in the harbour to mitigate damage. Possible solutions for Council to consider are as follows:

  • 1. Installation of a temporary concrete barrier wall along the east pier. This would involve the installation of a precast concrete wall along the east pier to try to minimize the impact of waves toping the pier wall. The wall would be constructed from "jersey" barrier which is used on construction sites to assist in channelizing traffic. Staff have sourced used sections of jersey barrier that are 815 mm high. This barrier wall would be approximately 260 meters long and would be installed approximately 2 meters from the edge of the pier wall. The total cost to purchase these structures is $51,220 exclusive of HST. We would note that while these structures may assist in mitigating overland flooding they would not do anything for calming the waters within the harbour and mitigating damage to municipal infrastructure or vessels.
  • 2. Installation of a floating breakwater within the channel of the harbour. This solution would involve the construction and installation of a floating breakwater structure across a portion of the channel. Typically, these structures are temporary in nature and could be deployed in the fall prior to the fall storms and then pulled back along the sea wall prior to winter freeze up of the channel. The breakwater would be anchored to the east pier at a location just to the south of the tug turning basin. This would assist in reducing wave energy in the harbour and upstream of the lift bridge for large storm events. We would note that given its configuration it would be marginally successful in reducing wave energy on the small to moderate storm events. We would note that the installation of this structure would still require the installation of the temporary concrete barrier to assist in mitigating waves topping the pier wall and flooding adjacent lands. The cost to install a floating breakwater is estimated at approximately $150,000. It is the opinion of Mr. Riggs that the success of this structure being able to reduce waves within the harbour is less than what would realized by the permanent groin structures noted in item 3 below.
  • 3. Installation of permanent Groin structures within the harbour. This solution would involve the construction of permanent rock filled cribbing similar to what was constructed at the end of the west pier. The structures would extend 10 meters into the channel and the cribs would be 5 meters wide. The installation of 2 structures (1 from east pier and 1 from west pier) would reduce wave height by approximately 30%. The cost per structure is estimated at $75,000 each. For two structures the total cost is estimated at $150,000. If the municipality were to construct 4 of these structures (2 from east pier and 2 from west pier) wave height would be reduced by 50%. The cost to install 4 of these structures is estimated at $300,000. We would note that while the wave height would be reduced by approximately 50% there may still be a need to install the concrete barrier wall to assist with mitigating waves from topping the east pier wall.
  • 4. Installation of a new breakwater across the channel from the end of the west pier (near the boat launch) heading westerly. This structure would eliminate the majority of the wave action within the harbour. The breakwater would be constructed from Armour Stone and would extend across the mouth of the channel approximately 50 metres long. The breakwater would be similar to the armour stone breakwater on the east side of the harbour. The cost to construct this structure is estimated at approximately $500,000. We would note however, that this option would eliminate the need for the installation of the temporary concrete barrier wall identified in item 1 above.
  • 5. Installation of a new breakwater across the mouth of the Harbour. The municipality has already initiated the design of an extension of the west breakwater in an easterly direction to protect the harbour from flood uprush which occurs when winds are from the South, SSW and SSE. The cost to construct this infrastructure is approximately $3 million. Staff would also note that the earliest this could be constructed would be in 2021 so it should not be considered a viable option in the immediate future. Staff would note however, that Council may wish to consider this project for a more permanent solution. Staff are currently investigating funding for construction of this project under the Federal Governments "Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund".
New Breakwater


Staff would suggest that Council has some options for funding one or all of the contemplated improvements noted above.

  • 1. Request landowner contribution for the temporary concrete barrier. This barrier will be assisting in protecting 4 structures which are private property as well as the municipal infrastructure along the East Pier. These are located at 194, 202, 204 and 206 Main St. It may be reasonable to request a financial contribution from the owners of these properties towards the purchase and installation of the concrete barrier.
  • 2. Cost to install the infrastructure in the Harbour such as floating breakwaters, breakwaters and/or groins may assist in protecting harbour infrastructure and they will also benefit property upstream of the lift bridge as well as vessels seeking berthage and refuge in the harbour. Staff would suggest that these project could be funded from the existing Harbour Divestiture fund. This fund currently sits with a balance of approximately $2 million dollars.

Council's Response to Report PW 31-19

At the Regular/Planning Meeting Of Council On Monday, July 22nd, 2019 Director of Physical Services discussed Item - 4. - PW 31-19 Harbour High Water Level Mitigation Measures with Council.

A lengthy discussion followed concerning the high water levels that with the right storm conditions could cause a damaging flood surge in the Harbour and of the options available to control the surge. Council picked Option 4 a breakwater 50 metre long that would extend across the mouth of the channel by the end of the west pier near the boat launch for an estimated cost of $500,000. Funding would come out of the Harbour Divestiture Fund.

A Motion moved by Deputy Mayor Marks and seconded by Councillor Roberts that Report PW 31-19 Harbour High Water Level Mitigation Measures be received as information; And further that Council direct staff to pursue Option 4 respecting mitigation measures for the high water levels in the Port Stanley Harbour; And further that Council direct staff to fund this expense through the Harbour Divestiture Fund. Carried.

Last Updated: Saturday, 17 August 2019 14:57:00 PM EST

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