© Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea chats with, from left, Michael McInnis, port chairman for Tignish, Paul Wood, port chair at West Point, and Keith Paugh during a federal announcement Tuesday of Small Craft Harbours funding for 11 P.E.I. ports.
WEST POINT — Paul Wood needs only to look back at last weekend’s post-tropical storm Arthur to realize the value of a good breakwater.
He said there would have been serious damage done here if a tidal surge had accompanied the storm.
As it was, the chairman of the West Point Harbour Port Authority said waves were rolling right over the east breakwater and boats in the bullpen “were dancing pretty good.”
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea announced $9.5 million in small craft harbours funding Tuesday for improvements at 11 P.E.I. ports.
The announcement was made at West Point where government will fund a major upgrade to the east breakwater (about eight feet of armour stone on top of the existing breakwater), construction of a service area and dredging.
“The money that Minister Shea announced today for our breakwater over here, plus our dredging project, fishermen are going to be smiles everywhere in their face,” Wood remarked.
He added the higher breakwater will also make the harbour more secure for pleasure craft.
In her announcement, Shea noted it’s been a little more than a quarter-century since the Department of Fisheries and Oceans initiated its small craft harbours program and local fishing groups started managing their harbours.
The pride those committees have in their ports, she said, is evident by the quality of the infrastructure and the cleanliness of the ports.
Evidence of that was right behind where the crowd of fishermen and other members of the public were standing for Shea’s announcement.
Two weeks ago a group of West Point fishermen obtained a supply of lumber and constructed a wind shelter along the port’s west wall.
Wood explained the port has had a persistent problem of sand from the west blowing over the west wall and into the bullpen.
“I guess we’re trying to save DFO a few dollars, too, in dredging,” he said, in suggesting the wall will stop the sand from blowing onto the wharf and into the bullpen.
Taken altogether, including plans to dredge the mouth, Wood said the work is making the harbour safer.
“You can’t fish without having a safe harbour.”
West Point fisherman, Wayne Livingstone, said the dredging is necessary, explaining there have been times during moon tides this year when fishermen couldn’t get into port because of the low water level.
“The economy that’s built around the fishing industry is very important, so it’s important to have good, solid infrastructure to support the industry for years to come,” Shea commented.
Besides West Point, the funding supports dredging work at Skinners Pond, Malpeque, Naufrage and North Lake.
Studies will be carried out at Skinners Pond and Malpeque to investigate what can be done to improve harbour access.
Fishermen’s Wharf in Georgetown will get a ramp between two wharves reconstructed, an old wharf at Machon’s Point will be removed and a new one constructed over the course of a two-year project. A wharf reconstruction at Red Head will also be completed.
Wharf reconstruction was approved for Northport and Howard’s Cove, but the work won’t be carried out there until next year.
Shea’s announcement also covered major projects at Tignish, where a section of wharf will be extended, other wharf walls will be reconstructed and shoreline protection will be added along the channel, and at Stanley Bridge where the breakwater will be realigned over two years. The Tignish and Stanley Bridge projects were announced previously but are included in the $9.5 million of federal funding.
Wood estimated the work at West Point could cost about $750,000 for the construction projects and another $100,000 for the dredging. The actual cost won’t be known until the tenders are awarded.