Dealing with contaminated soil at Westminster Pier Park increased the park's price tag by nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.
A post-construction report about Westminster Pier Park states that the total cost of the park was $25,892,822. The project exceeded its budget by about $740,080.
Coun. Bill Harper said the project was $740,000 more than expected because of the need to deal with contamination and changes to provincial regulations concerning contaminated sites.
Staff provided city council with a wrapup report about Westminster Pier Park, which outlined the final cost of the park.
The City of New Westminster purchased the waterfront site for $8 million in 2009 and built the $25.9-million park. The city received federal and provincial government contributions for two-thirds ($16.6 million) of the project funding through the Build Canada Fund and contributed more than $8 million in city funds to the park.
Soil remediation and groundwater treatment were required at the brownfield site, where past uses included coal storage warehouses, industrial equipment operations, industrial machine shops, marine works, foundries for www.burnaby.ca/ seniorsbustrip scrap metal melting, coalfired power generation, marine and automobile fuelling and land filling.
The Ministry of Environment issued a certificate of compliance for the entire site on June 28.
The presence of chlorinated solvents in the form of a dense, non-aqueous phase liquid (dubbed a toxic blob by some residents) caused some delays because the area near the Fourth Street section of the site had to be remediated to the provincial Ministry of Environment's satisfaction.
"The ministry's site classification system and groundwater investigation requirements were both updated in mid-2010, resulting in the need for more comprehensive investigation and monitoring," said Jim Lowrie, the city's director of engineering. "The end result, however, is a higher level of environmental protection."
The July 9 post-construction report to council also outlined the city's next steps for the park, which include improving access, adding concession services and programming a portion of the park known as the Timber Wharf. Several members of city council expressed concern about the city's plan to lease out the concession space at the park to a private operator, rather than operate it as a city concession.
Dean Gibson, the city's director of parks, culture and recreation, said the city's plan has always been to seek proposals from private operators interested in running the concession. He said those proposals would determine whether it's a seasonal or yearround concession, and what type of food is provided at the concession in Westminster Pier Park.
Because the concession area is an "empty shell" that needs to be equipped with whatever equipment is needed by the operator, the city doesn't anticipate the concession will be operational until next year.
Several councillors questioned why the city would provide an opportunity to an independent operator to run the concession, rather than operate the concession as it does in other park facilities.
Gibson said the city's existing concessions provide basic food items, and a private operator may be able to provide "a different ambiance" with the foods services offered at Westminster Pier Park. He added the city's concessions tend to operate on a "break-even" basis.
Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said the city may be breaking even at other concessions, but Westminster Pier Park may provide an opportunity to do better financially, given that the park will be a "huge draw" to visitors.
He questioned why the city would look at "giving it away" to a private operator at a time when the space has the potential to make money.
Coun. Jonathan Cote said he has received "overwhelmingly positive" feedback about the park, but some people have questioned the timeline for programming the "timber wharf" and for dealing with long-term plans for that portion of the site. (The area gets its Timber Wharf name from the fact that the original timber piles and decking are located on this portion of the wharf.)
Gibson said the city sought ideas about the use of that portion of the site (which gets its name from the fact that it is the part of the park located on the original timber piles) and 25 to 30 ideas were proposed, ranging from beach volleyball to a ball hockey court.
He said the city's plan is to review those suggestions over the summer and look at ways of implementing some of the top priorities.
According to Lowrie, public consultation on possible programming for this area will take place in August and September.
He said a detailed inspection and loading analysis will be done on the Timber Wharf area this summer, so the wharf area is currently limited to pedestrian activity and service vehicles.
Cote said some residents have also questioned the city's plans to improve access to the site. Currently the site is only accessible via the private parking lot at the east end of the site, next to River Market.
The city is proposing a bicycle/pedestrian overpass that would provide a direct access to the park at Fourth Street, where it would come over the parkade, over Front Street and the railroad tracks and descend into the park. Design work is underway.
Lowrie said the concept is expected to be considered by city council in August. With construction anticipated to begin in the fall, the city is aiming to complete the $1.3 million overpass next spring.