Sarnia’s CAO says new municipal boat launch will be ready by April

The land area of the municipal boat launch beside Dockside Restaurant has been backfilled and now awaits installation of concrete ramps into the water. George Mathewson

Troy Shantz

The long-delayed municipal boat ramps at Sarnia Bay are still on track to open in time for the Sarnia Salmon Derby in April, the city’s CAO says.

Work resumed in December to backfill the launch base, and the placing of pre-fabricated concrete ramps in the water will begin “early in the new year,” Margaret Misek-Evans said.

“There’s just the one remaining component left and staff are managing that closely.”

But after three failed attempts and city council’s dismissal of former project manager Golder Associates in September for “unsatisfactory performance,” Misek-Evans stopped short of guaranteeing the launch will be ready by April.

“There’s perhaps more experience with the (subcontractors) working on this with respect to construction of boat ramps,” she said, cautiously. “So there’s probably a little more optimism that things will go well.”

The boat ramps are the final piece in a remediation and infrastructure upgrade of Centennial Park that has cost $13.8 million, more than double original estimates.

The park was fenced off in 2013 after oil, asbestos and lead were discovered in the soil, most likely from industrial fill dumped there in the 1960s.

Since then, much of the 38-acre park has been re-graded and capped with a geotextile fabric and layers of sand and topsoil, along with new amenities and a stone block shoreline.

The city fully reopened the park last summer with a new children’s playground and walkways, gardens and other amenities.

Misek-Evans declined to say whether Golder offered a portfolio showing expertise in building boat ramps, but noted the current combination of subcontractors, Riggs Engineering and East Elgin Concrete Forming, are experienced in that field.

The city began in August of 2016 to work on a new boat ramp near the Dockside restaurant, but said it would continue to operate the old boat launches on Sarnia Bay until the new one was ready.

However, the old launches were pulled out last January to facilitate park reconstruction, a move that angered anglers and recreational boaters who have now gone a year without a municipal launch.

“This project has spanned two councils, one mayor, two city managers, multiple people on staff … and none of us has been particularly happy about the speed or impediments we’ve had to deal with,” Coun. Mike Kelch said in September.

“At the same time, that’s our job. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to deal with it, or walk away from the park.”