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Nelson council approves pier canopy

Nelson city council has voted 4-2 to approve including a wooden canopy as part of the new Hall Street pier at a cost of $861,000.

The decision today follows the preparation by city staff of a business plan explaining how the amenity could be paid for through new revenue.

Staff projected the pier would generate from $5,800 to $16,000 per year through public and private events and parking would account for another $30,000 to $63,000 annually.

They also noted that without a canopy the project would not achieve the goals established at its outset.

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“Without the canopy, the project lacks the vertical presence needed to act as a beacon and landmark that draws people to the area and connects,” they wrote.

“Without the canopy, the project lacks the capacity to be a four season amenity for locals and tourists … Without the canopy, the project no longer showcases Nelson’s local wood industry, its world class expertise and craftsmanship.”

Council previously put a decision on hold after the project cost ballooned from $360,000.

Voting in favour, councillor Rik Logtenberg said he was satisfied that the assumptions staff made were reasonable and that the canopy would be a long-term asset.

Councillor Jesse Woodward, who previously expressed doubts, was also convinced to endorse the plan.

“This pier will be part of how Nelson is seen,” he said. “It will become an iconic piece like the orange bridge. Lots of photos will be taken of this pier looking out over the lake.

Woodward said what ultimately sold him on the project was the timeframe, noting the canopy’s lifespan is expected to be 40 to 50 years. “We have to think in long-term goals.”

Councillor Keith Page and mayor Janice Morrison also supported the canopy’s inclusion.

However, councillor Jesse Pineiro argued the new pier would be fine without the canopy.

“I don’t see why we should pay for it,” he said. “The city has several markets and events, none have a canopy and all seem to do just fine. Bring a tent or an umbrella if you’re sensitive.”

Pineiro also felt there were better ways to spend money, such as winterizing the campground.

Councillor Leslie Payne said she had not “heard a compelling reason to complete a wooden canopy at this price” and doubted the pier would ever be a true four-season amenity, simply because it’s too cold by the lake in winter.

Councillor Kate Tait wasn’t part of the discussion due to a potential conflict of interest.

Meanwhile, the city says contractors are gearing up to resume work on the pier project, with a target completion of July.

A barge will be set up alongside the pier to help in the installation of hand rails and completion of the pier itself.

Work will also begin on the building that will display the Ladybird, an historic speedboat that set speed records on Kootenay Lake in the 1920s.

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