Nelson City Council is contemplating a major upgrade of the Hall Street pier on Kootenay Lake.
The proposed project would be largely grant-funded and is part of the city’s attempt to create shovel-ready capital projects to stimulate the economy during the pandemic, along with two other proposed projects: a new library and changes to the Civic Theatre building.
The project would see the replacement of the pilings and decking, which are reportedly at the end of their life, as well as replacement of the gazebo beside the Prestige Lakeside Resort. It also includes the creation of a public event space on the pier, some of it covered, designed by a group of consultants headed by the Nelson-based Stanley Office of Architecture.
Mayor John Dooley said the pier has needed repairs for many years.
“There is nothing new about fixing the pier,” he said at council’s Sept. 8 meeting. “How we fix it and what it looks like, that’s new.”
The city has received a $500,000 grant from the Columbia Basin Trust for this project, and at the meeting it voted to spend a further $110,000 toward the removal and replacement of the current pilings.
Council has received pledges of in-kind or at-cost work from a number of local companies including Kalesnikoff Lumber for mass timber components, Spearhead Timberworks for design and fabrication of timber structures, Drop Design for steel marine components, Porcupine Wood Products for cedar decking and cladding, Nelco Marine as the major supplier of floating docks, gangways and components to Kootenay Lake, and Kootenay Lake Barge and Pile.
City manager Kevin Cormack told the Star in an email that the initial cost estimate for the project is $1.2 million and that “we are just working through that to determine what the city contributions need to be. The city’s portion of this project would be funded from reserves earmarked for capital projects and would not impact taxation.”
Cormack said at the council meeting that even though the pier was not specifically part of the Hall Street Stores to Shores project, completed in 2018, it fits Nelson’s Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan that enabled the Hall Street project.
The plaza with the gazebo was identified then as a focal point that would be improved over time, Cormack said.
The proposed project also includes providing a permanent home at the pier for the Ladybird, a champion speedboat from the 1920s and 30s, which is no longer in use and is owned by Touchstones Museum.
Councillors Brittny Anderson and Keith Page questioned whether the three-project package of new pier, new library and changes to the Civic Theatre fit with council’s strategic plan, written last year without mention of any of those projects. Anderson said they came as a surprise when first discussed at a council meeting in July.
“This is a little bit out of left field for us,” Anderson said, “but packaged so beautifully it is really difficult to say no to.”
Cormack responded that the project involves enhancing the city’s infrastructure, which is part of the strategic plan, and that it is a more immediate response to council’s decision to find capital projects that will help the economy during the pandemic.
He said before awarding any contracts a revised budget and final design will be brought to council for approval this fall, with construction planned to start in the spring.