The government of Canada has agreed to fund repairs and improvements to the Digby wharf.
“Stabilization is what we are talking about,” said Greg Kerr, member of parliament for West Nova. “Making this a stand alone, fully operational facility is the goal.”
Kerr announced that cabinet has agreed to fund a proposal from the Digby Harbour Port Association to build a rock breakwater to the northeast of the wharf, demolish the middle l or finger of the wharf, dredge that area and install another floating dock.
Kerr says the project will cost approximately $7.6 million but final figures won’t be available until further engineering takes place.
“It will take the final design work to be sure, but at this point we are quite sure it will be relatively close.”
Kerr says if the engineers discover any “substantial surprises” then cabinet might need to have another look.
“But we are committed to making sure this project is completed.”
Kerr said the harbour association’s diligent and professional approach to the project was responsible for cabinet granting its approval.
“It is very tight getting money but if the project is worthwhile and deals with the economy, then it will get priority,” said Kerr. “This has been an especially difficult situation after a horrible divestiture, I think that is the appropriate word. That resulted in this wharf being an orphan and for a while it was very difficult to even get bureaucrats to come down here.
“There has been a lot of hours putting into this and now I’m hoping that is the end of it.”
Jeff Sunderland, manager of the port association says the wharf has come a long way since the association took over four and a half years ago.
He thanked Kerr and Peter MacKay, who could not attend this announcement, for earlier federal funding of $3 million towards replacing missing decking, removing a sunken boat and fixing broken ladders.
The new breakwater to the north east will be on top of existing rock from the old spur wharf and then will turn to the southeast to follow the line of the wharf.
Sunderland says the breakwater will protect the wharf from nor’easters that pound in across the Annapolis Basin.
The association just finished $250,000 in repairs to damages from storms last fall. The federal department of Fisheries funded the new decking on the outside faces.
The middle l of the wharf is not safe to use says Sunderland and replacing it with a floating dock will make more room in the facility.
“We are fortunate our two main fisheries, scallops and lobsters are stable and we have been increasing in numbers every year almost to the point now at times of overcrowding.”
Sunderland says demolition of the middle l could start this fall. He said some initial design work is already underway and the next step is the “environmental processes”.