by Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on Saturday May 14 2022
Re-envisioning the Hall Street Pier Project after estimated preliminary costs proved prohibitive has the waterfront work set to begin in June.
Located at the foot of Hall Street and the waterfront, the first flush of the project blew the initial budget set by city council, prompting a search to find cost savings.
By reducing the quantity of timber and steel a modified version of the pier emerged, and provided an opportunity to shorten the pier and add a swimming amenity area.
The pier improvement represents the last phase of the Stores-to-Shores project, which included upgrades along the Hall Street corridor from IODE Park to the waterfront.
Once work has begun the pier's existing creosote-treated piles will be removed and replaced with new steel piles.
The finalized design will include the following:
• replacement of piles, new decking for the pier, floating docks and a shade canopy;
• the pier will also hold wider walking surfaces, new seating, improved access to the lower floating docks and a swimming amenity area.
With a design now in hand the project is set to begin in mid-May, and demolition of the gazebo, decking and removal of the existing docks scheduled to begin in early June — the demolition of the pier and removal of piles is expected to be in mid-June 2022.
It was identified several years ago that the pier was reaching end-of-life and, at a minimum, needed to be re-decked.
A bit of history
Historically, the pier was known as the City Wharf; however, there have been various names throughout the years, including Government Wharf, Public Wharf and the CPR Wharf.
The initial pier was constructed in 1892 for $4,000, where horse and steam engines drove the piles of cedar, hemlock, fir and tamarack.
This stop along the river was believed to be vital to the transportation link for the paddle wheelers that ran up and down the West Arm of Kootenay Lake and the lake itself.
Although a renovation was completed in 1910, it was demolished and reconstructed in April 1947 and again in the summer of 1986.
Source: City of Nelson
The cost of the project has been a concern since its inception, with several city councillors not in favour of the larger figure.
In February Mayor John Dooley told council there was a $250,000 commitment from the community toward the $1.75 million total funding needed for the project — with $884,500 in additional funding required — during tough financial times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those costs — including the addition of the LadyBird exhibit of one of the fastest boats in the region in the mid 1920s and 1930s — had been questioned by some on council in the latest chapter of the pier project.
“We built the Civic Centre in the Depression, that’s our history and that’s who we are as a community. You are right we have to be thoughtful, you are right we have to be prudent, but it shouldn’t stifle imagination, ingenuity and vision of our community. And it’s never been more important than it is today,” Dooley said at the time.
On April 19 city council approved a project budget of approximately $3.5 million, including the city’s contribution of $2 million from reserves to this project is, plus a Columbia Basin Trust grant of $500k and a Federal Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program grant of $1 million.