Planning for a new access into Westminster Pier Park is moving on to the detailed design phase - including consideration of a zipline into the park.
The riverfront park is currently only accessible via a parking lot at the east side of the park. Council has directed staff to proceed with the detailed design and construction of the Fourth Street overpass, including stairs and an elevator connection to the park.
"It doesn't say we are building it," Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said about the zipline. "It says to look at it."
Mayor Wayne Wright said staff will get information about the potential cost and viability of a zipline as part of the design process.
Last summer, council directed staff to proceed with a request for proposals to hire a consultant to prepare preliminary design concepts and cost estimates for a structure that would be fully accessible and complement the design of Westminster Pier Park.
According to a staff report, the connection was originally expected to be complete in the spring of 2013, but summer 2013 is a "more realistic" target given the current timing.
A Feb. 25 staff report included a number of options for improved access to the park and cost estimates for the project: Option 1 - overpass and stairs ($1,377,000); Option 2 - overpass, stairs and elevator $1,885,000); Option 3 - overpass, stairs and ramp ($3,105,000); and Option 4 - overpass, stairs, elevator and ramp ($3,613,000).
"The overpass and stairs only, would provide access to the park but would not achieve accessibility requirements," stated the staff report. "The addition of either an elevator, ramp or both would address accessibility to different degrees with associated cost impacts and impacts on the park. The construction of an overpass with stairs and an elevator would provide full accessibility and add to the iconic look of the structure as the elevator shaft would be illuminated."
The report stated that here would be ongoing maintenance and operating costs associated with the elevator, but if designed well these costs could be controlled. It added that the addition of an elevator after the construction of the stairs wouldn't be cost-effective because the stair structure would need to be designed to accommodate this at the design state.
"We know the design we need to have for the elevator and the stairwell and the ramp," Wright said. "We can do it in pieces."
According to a staff report, a ramp would provide full accessibility to the park but has a significant impact on the park because the footprint for the ramp would take up approximately 600 square metres (6,460 square feet) and would run a distance of 150 metres (490 feet) at seven per cent grade.
"While providing more capacity than an elevator, some users may find this distance and grade challenging," said the report. "The overpass would be designed to accommodate a ramp if this is desired at some point in the future."
Wright said the city still needs to consider costs, operations and other factors regarding a zipline in the park.
Puchmayr suggested that the city should consider including a zip line into the park.
"The staff that is working on it told me they are looking at it and have been in contact with a zipline operator," he said.
Puchmayr believes the zipline would be beneficial on several fronts, including being a draw to the site and providing another way of accessing the park.
"People can have a little bit of a thrill getting in there," he said.
Puchmayr believes a zipline has the potential of being a win-win for the community.
"I'd like to see it tolled and the money go to non-profits," he said. "That's my opinion. It is certainly not a position council has taken."
The City of New Westminster's 2013 to 2017 draft financial plan includes $1.85 million for an overpass, based on preliminary concepts. The report noted that this budget is anticipated to be sufficient to complete the overpass with stairs and an overpass, with a provision that a ramp connection could be added in the future.
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