You may find all your scenic strolls along the lower Lochside seawall in the future to be cut a bit short.
One-hundred-sixty metres of the wall was damaged during storms earlier this year, and several of the 4,000-pound concrete lock blocks that make up the wall slid onto the beach.
And while Sidney was originally intent on restoring the wall to its original look and form, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans took issue.
“The Town was advised that if (it) pursued (using lock blocks), DFO would be required to undertake a project review, a process that can take many months with an uncertain outcome,” said Rob Hall, Sidney’s director of engineering and works. “DFO was not supportive of the continued use of lock blocks.”
The review process would examine the environmental and foreshore impacts the proposed project would have.
It was decided, instead, that given the urgency to get the seawall restored and the concerns around the uncertainty of the DFO’s review process, the lower walkway won’t be rebuilt.
“It’s not anything the Town of Sidney wants,” said Mayor Larry Cross. “We felt we had to go forward. The problem with delaying (construction) any further is we’re moving into winter storms again, and I’m convinced that if we did nothing there’d be more serious damage done to the wall, and more erosion.”
Crews are currently constructing the new portion of the seawall, from the south end to Captains Walk, using rocks to make a softer shoreline that’ll allow for protection from crashing waves and future erosion.
A new path from the existing lower walkway to the upper walkway at the road is being constructed.
“We hope to be out of the lower section by around the beginning of October, if all goes well,” Hall said. “The confined area and single access makes for slow going, particularly when a patch of poor material is encountered, cannot be set aside and reused, and must be hauled out and removed from the site entirely.”
Cross says the remaining lock block wall is in good shape, but Sidney engineers are looking at ways to reduce the energy of waves hitting the wall, including installing large boulders off shore.
The cost of constructing the rocky shoreline without a lower walkway is estimated at $360,000, approximately $40,000 less than the lock block plan.