THUNDER BAY — The City of Thunder Bay and the Friends of Chippewa are sorting out how to deal with damage to the park caused by a late October storm.
Wind gusts up to 95 kilometres an hour drove large waves into the boardwalk that juts out into Lake Superior, dislodging three sections from the rock foundation and depositing them on the shore.
The boardwalk had already been closed off by the city because the lake's high water level had resulted in significant erosion where the boardwalk meets land.
The Oct. 21 storm worsened the erosion along the beach.
Ian Angus, spokesperson for the Friends of Chippewa Park, says a retaining wall the group installed in 2002/2003 "was totally destroyed" by the wave action.
Cory Halvorsen, Manager of Parks and Open Spaces for the city, said because the damage happened so late in the season, there was no opportunity to make repairs before winter.
Between now and the spring, city staff will consider options for repairs.
Angus, however, said the provincial Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks recently approved funding his group applied for a couple of years ago to remove the boardwalk and the pier it sits on.
He said a study the city conducted five years ago showed they should be dismantled in order to improve the water quality around the beach.
"We've got $75,000 from the province to hire an engineer to a plan for removing it and for relocating those rocks, and to secure the shoreline. They have indicated to us that we will be able to apply for the capital funding to do the work in the [provincial government's] 2020/2021 budget," he said.
A new retaining wall, Angus said, is also needed to prevent soil from draining into the water and choking the swimming area.
He added that even though the park is city property "we're hoping to do all the work without having to go to the property taxpayer."
The Friends of Chippewa want the work completed in time for the park's 100th anniversary in 2021.
However, environmental assessment is required for work on the pier, and no schedule will be established by the city until the EA process is completed.
Counc. Mark Bentz was surprised to see the extent of the damage when he visited a few weeks ago.
"All that money that was put into the retaining walls around the beach...the place looks a mess...these were strong log structures" that were wrecked, Bentz said, adding that he doesn't believe anyone has an appreciation of what's happened.
He wants to know what city administration intends to do.
"What's the plan here? It seems to not have gotten on anyone's radar that this park has been really damaged badly," Bentz said.