Charlottetown looking for plan to protect waterfront

Dave Stewart
Published on July 14, 2014

Waves crash onto the rocks protecting the Charlottetown boardwalk

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

The capital city is looking for a long-term plan to protect its waterfront from damaging storms like Arthur.

Ron Waite, general manager of the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation, is currently trying to pull together a small group of people to do just that.

“We’ve been asked to see if we can come up with a longer-term plan as to what might be done in order to better protect the waterfront,’’ says Waite.

Tropical storm Arthur lashed the waterfront on Saturday, July 5, knocking down trees and power lines while also hitting the Charlottetown Yacht Club with the kind of damage it hasn’t seen since tropical storm Juan in September 2003.

When the wind direction switched to the west, it left boats at the yacht club more vulnerable. That has reignited talk of whether a breakwater would be a good idea.

However, depending on how it is constructed, that could cost anywhere from $3 million to $10 million.

The money is not Waite’s only concern.

“The area around the Charlottetown Yacht Club is really only part of the solution that we need to be looking at. We have to look at the whole waterfront.’’

He means from Paoli’s Wharf (adjacent to the Queen Charlotte Armouries) down to and including the Charlottetown Harbour Authority berth.

“Confederation Landing Park, for example, is an area that’s exposed to erosion. As these storms hammer the shoreline it becomes that much more of an issue. The area from Paoli’s Wharf to Confederation Landing Park is the area we think is most susceptible to damage.’’

Waite said there are also landowner issues at play. Not all of the property along the waterfront is public land so agreement from those landowners would be necessary and that’s one of the issues that tends to scare off the federal government when it comes to money.

Waite would like to have representatives at the table from the province’s Office of Public Safety, along with different stakeholders and levels of government.

Les Parsons, chairman of the harbour authority, said it’s a tough problem to solve.

“That might be a useful discussion,’’ Parsons said, referring to CADC’s plan, “but I guess at the end of the day we’re all kind of left to our own devices in dealing with what we’ve got. We can’t control Mother Nature.’’

Asking government for money when the city needs a new water source and is in the process of finishing a project that prevents effluent from seeping into the harbour makes it even tougher, he said.

The harbour authority’s breakwater sustained damage in Arthur but they’re not sure how much it will cost to fix.

“It becomes an insurance claim and it’s the first time in my time here that we’ve had to put a claim through in anything.’’

Parsons said most of the infrastructure in place to protect the harbour authority’s marina has withstood some good blows over the last few years.

“Is that a good record or a bad record? Part of me says that’s not bad.’’