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Nelson pier gets put on hold for in-depth cost review

The Nelson pier project will have to wait longer after council decided to gather more information before including $861,244 in the budget for the canopy portion of the project. 

The canopy has seen significant cost increases, from $360,000 to $696,043, since initially being included in the 2022 budget and now calls for a third increase to complete the project by the end of 2023.

Councilor Jesse Woodword addressed his concern for spending additional money saying he understands the artistic value of the project, but money should be prioritized for other services residents in Nelson need.

“I am thinking about the cost benefit of use for our citizens,” he says. “For example, an active transportation route would be a daily use piece of infrastructure for the city.

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“My concern is the close to $1 million price tag for the benefit of our citizens and where it lines up. I am concerned we are pushing hard to finish, and maybe getting a little blinded when there are a lot of projects to do.”

Some councillors didn’t object to putting the money forward to complete the project, however. Keith Page stated the increase in cost is miniscule when compared to how much potential completing the project could have.

“We’re looking at a 20 per cent increase overtop of what we’re at now,” Page says. “Putting the canopy on top of the entrance way of the pier, to me, is a lot more than 20 per cent.

“This unlocks other opportunities in the waterfront area to draw in to what I think would be a 17-year payback.”

Page says the city should just finish the project and move on.

“I think we have to get this project done. Let’s complete and move on to having wholesome discussions about the next project,” he says.

Councillor Rik Logtenberg addressed the concerns about spending money stating he knows money could be raised, but like Woodward he is concerned about completing other “more necessary” projects in the community.

“If the argument is that the canopy is going to attract more revenue in the city’s coffers that will pay for it, that would be one thing,” Logtenberg says. “What I am hearing is we are redirecting funds that would otherwise be used for other things.

“For example, the sale of the museum property, that is money which could be used to fund other projects like active transportation. So there is a zero sum factor, where money going to the pier is not available for other projects.” 

Director of engineering Colin Innes said in an interview he is aware the price tag for finishing the project is big, but waiting could result in an even higher amount.

“I think what council is having trouble with is that when they started this project many years ago the financial reality was different than it is today,” he says. “I believe it is presenting them with some real challenges. 

“Our thoughts were to get the project done, so we don’t end up seeing escalating costs on this in the future.”

All but one member of council voted in favor of  a motion to defer spending money on the canopy until a more in-depth analysis is done on cost recovery.

Councillor Kate Tait excused herself from voting due to a conflict of interest.

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