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GWDS seeks $300,000 from MODG for wharf repairs

Cost to save key infrastructure could run into millions

  • December 13 2023
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

GUYSBOROUGH — The Guysborough Waterfront Development Society (GWDS) is asking the municipal government for $300,000 to help stem the tide of serious deterioration at the downtown wharf, a centerpiece of tourism, commerce and culture for the community.

In a presentation to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) council last week (Dec. 6), the organization’s vice-chair, Bayne Horton – who is also a hydrographic survey engineer – said, “The wharf needs substantial upgrades in the near future. There is deterioration at the tideline of the steel sheet piling. In some cases, we are losing ballast...We’ll need your help, because I don’t think time is on our side.”

Horton noted that a review three years go indicated that the cost to repair the wharf might run as high as $500,000, but now, he told council, “We’re looking at almost five times that. We’re seeing 180 per cent cost increases in our industry from just last year, and there will come a point when salvaging won’t be optional, it will just be a complete demo and rebuild.”

In his presentation, Horton said the wharf has supported the community “in countless ways” over the years. In addition to its marina, it serves as a focal point and meeting place for retail commerce, arts and cultural events, and a farmer’s market.

With $197,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the provincial and municipal governments, and a private legacy gift, he said, “We’ve done phase one upgrades to the buildings and [added] various things to the waterfront, [such as] kiosks, sun sails, a barbecue, a sound system and improved lighting.”

Phase two, he said, involves asking members of the community to kick in $200,000 for wharf repairs. So far, “Our fundraising group has raised roughly $67,000 in five weeks, and we feel pretty positive about reaching our goal.”

But, he added, for projects of this nature and scope, “You are typically looking at funding from different levels of government” to complement local fund efforts and donations. “My hope is that we can get to $300,000 and then hope for maybe a similar donation over two years from the municipality ... and then that [again] from the provincial and federal governments.”

He said: “At this point, it’s really difficult to get a solid number on [what would be needed] ... I really do hope that there’s a very cost effective repair that’s in the future. But, again, time will tell.”

Noted Warden Vernon Pitts following the presentation: “I didn’t think the wharf was in that bad a shape... I agree wholeheartedly in regards to the tourism aspect. It is a great anchor.”

The matter was referred to MODG’s budget planning process.