KAGAWONG – Construction barriers have been in place since late spring. A large hill of dirt partially obscures the view of Mudge Bay. Site work at Kagawong’s small craft basin is underway and while there have been some challenges, the work should be completed on schedule, said Todd Gordon, economic development officer for Billings Township.
Work on the original small craft harbour was done mainly by public works more than three decades ago; even then, there were grander plans for it, he said. Over the years there have been many iterations of ideas, plans and studies. It has been five years since the development of the most recent master plan study in 2015 to shovels in the ground with project funding being one of the greatest challenges.
This time delay presents a separate challenge, Mr. Gordon said, as original cost estimates can often need revision. Costs rarely decrease over time for construction and infrastructure projects.
The small craft marina rebuild is part of a larger waterfront improvement project consisting of three components: small craft marina improvements, Aus Hunt marina improvements and a new wastewater (septic) treatment component that would handle existing flows but also have enough capacity for Kagawong’s next stage waterfront building. In 2018/2019 a call for tenders went out for this and for the Main Street reconstruction project. Bids received for Main Street were “way out of range,” he said.
At present, the expansion of the small craft marina is moving forward. Excavation is for approximately twelve additional slips. The layout of docks will be different and the all-new dock infrastructure is going to increase flexibility. Not only will there be more slips for seasonals with the rebuild but there will also be some power hook-ups so that overflow transients can stay in the small craft marina if necessary.
“The small craft basin has always been oriented to seasonals,” said Mr. Gordon. “That’s mostly local residents who rent a slip and keep their boats there for the summer. The Aus Hunt marina ideally has been for transients, boaters who stop for a night or two, but there have always been seasonals at Aus Hunt because there are more than we’ve had slippage for in the small craft basin.”
High water levels have been an unexpected issue. “The cycle’s not new. It’s how fast the water rose during this part of the cycle,” Mr. Gordon said. “Much of this has occurred since we began these improvements. We very nearly lost our breakwall at the small craft basin so that’s had to be dealt with.”
That work was not in the scope of the project and has added additional costs. “The breakwall protects the harbour. With the water level rising to historical levels or beyond, the breakwall was eroding very badly and so had to be built up.”
The small craft marina project is scheduled for ‘substantial completion’ by the end of September and will be fully usable next year.