Cottonwood Island Park Damage Extensive
One of the damaged areas in Cottonwood Island Park – photos 250News
Prince George, B.C. – Although there has not yet been a price tag attached to the damage in Cottonwood Island Park, there will need to be some repairs and changes made.
The park sustained significant damage due to high water levels on the Nechako River during the spring freshet. The extent of the damage really only visible over the past week or so as the Nechako returns to levels typical for this time of the year.
Supervisor of Parks Sean Le Brun says at least one trail will have to be re-routed “One of the trails that runs along the north side of Cottonwood Island is pretty much gone, there are sections that are left, but we did lose a fair bit of the island. So what we need to do is look at where we do have trail and try to connect two points back together.”
(at right, bank erosion cuts into trail)
That means the riverside trail will be a thing of the past “Obviously we’re not going to run a trail right along the riverbank again, so we’ll try to connect the trails without doing too much damage environmentally and what that process is, is really our next step.” He says much of the north side of the island has been undermined by the river “Short of stabilizing the bank and arming it in some way to protect it, at great expense, it just doesn’t seem the right thing to do to build another trail and hope that it doesn’t flood again.”
In addition to the loss of trails due to bank erosion, one bridge was damaged when a cottonwood tree toppled on to it. A structural engineer may have to be brought in to see if the bridge can be repaired, or if it needs to be replaced.
The area is environmentally sensitive, so LeBrun says it’s more complicated than just dumping some new gravel and spreading it around “We don’t want to rush into anything and do things improperly or haphazardly.”
The Parks division has a $75 thousand dollar capital trail rehabilitation budget this year, but that money is to be used to build up and repair all the trails in the City “It’s (the budget) not dedicated to one certain section , we just try every year to try and improve a little bit here and there.”
It is too late in the year to make repairs to Cottonwood Island Park, but LeBrun is hopeful the fall and winter will allow time to have some sort of design plan developed . Depending on the plan, work would not likely start until next summer following the 2016 spring freshet.
In the meantime, park users can expect to see signs “The majority of the island is still available” says LeBrun, “You can still get on and off, you can still get from one end to the other, there are just certain sections that you will notice some new signs. The bridge itself will be closed until we can decide if it can be fixed or if it needs to be removed and replaced. It’s just a matter of keeping your eyes open and being very careful if you walk along the river bank because as we know, there are lots of spots that have been undermined and you will need to exercise caution at all times.”
Le Brun says the full report, complete with cost estimates to repair damage, is expected to be presented to Council some time this fall. “If it is a larger amount, or beyond what’s in the Parks capital program that would have to go before Council for approval.”
LeBrun says while there are still questions about dollars and trail connectivity, there is one thing they do know “We’re going to have to look long and hard at alternatives.”