Westsyde erosion stopped
Efforts to stop the North Thompson River from eating away at a handful of properties in Westsyde appears to have worked.
However, the first attempts to preserve the habitat in the same area weren’t as successful.
As part of the river-bank erosion project last year, the city was ordered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to replant about 3,600 trees and shrubs to limit the impact on fish habitat in the river.
So, last spring and summer, about 1,600 of the trees were planted in the Westsyde neighbourhood where the river erosion took place, while the city found a site near the new Rayleigh slo-pitch park to plant the rest.
Unfortunately, the plants and trees near the park died and the city was forced to replant them.
Kristen Meersman, capital-projects manager, said the trees died for several reasons, including hot weather and animals in the area.
She noted an irrigation system was later installed which substantially improved the vegetation’s survival rate.
Under Fisheries and Oceans rules, the city is responsible to ensure the plants have a 90 per cent survival rate for five years.
Meersman suggested the city will likely be back to do replanting over the years.
“It’s inevitable you’re going to lose a few,” she said.
The cost to plant the trees in Westsyde was $32,000, while the bill came to $39,000 in Rayleigh.
Three years ago, 10 Westsyde property owners approached city council for assistance, insisting their properties between Bermer Place and Bank Road, along with a right-of-way at the end of Garnet Road and a sewer outfall, suffered serious erosion after an ice jam in the river in 2006.
Crews were busy last spring stabilizing the riverbank, which included sloping the bank and building out 40 feet of heavy rock.
Tony Berkhout was one of the affected homeowners along the river.
He’s pleased with results of the work and believes the banks have been stabilized.
“I’m very confident it’s saved,” he said of his property.
But, Berkhout was surprised to learn of the Fisheries and Oceans requirements for the project and wondered why the federal agency has so much say over the city.
“The whole thing is ridiculous because it has nothing to do with this project,” he said.
As for the erosion work, city officials noted residents are responsible for the ongoing annual inspections of the riverbank and any remedial work will be done as required.
The cost of the project was estimated at $960,000, with the residents picking up one-third of the tab.
Eight of the 10 affected property owners signed a local area-service agreement that will see them cover $275,000 worth of work.