A decision on repairs to the Misner dam in Port Dover was being considered at Norfolk council’s meeting on Tuesday this week.
Tenders to repair the structure were called this fall with seven firms bidding. The low tender in the amount of $1.46 million from Bronte Construction, of Oakville, had been recommended for approval at the Dec. 3 meeting.
“The Misner dam rehabilitation project addresses deficiencies in this structure,” Norfolk project manager Scott Zerbes says in his report to council. “The construction will take place over two years to comply with (provincial) approvals for in-water work.”
If council gives the go-ahead, a debenture will be issued to pay for the project.
Norfolk County has travelled a long road to get to this point.
Deteriorating concrete at the top of the dam was flagged about 10 years ago. This prompted the removal of stop logs and the lowering of the Silver Lake mill pond to reduce pressure on the 100-year-old structure.
The replacement of Silver Lake in the centre of Port Dover with a swampy mud flat angered and upset hundreds of residents. They formed a lobby group and were poised to get results in June of last year when the former Norfolk council – in a surprise 5-4 vote – turned down a $2.1 million bid to repair the dam.
The new Norfolk council, elected in October of 2018, agreed to revisit the project in June. They did so after considering the recommendations of a community task force.
In its presentation to council, the task force said Misner dam is key to preventing the Lynn River below the dam and the harbour in Port Dover itself from silting in. The task force said this part of the river and the harbour would require frequent, expensive dredging to continue functioning as they do in the absence of the dam.
Interest in Port Dover in repairing Misner dam is also high because a secure structure is key to dredging and rehabilitating Silver Lake.
In its report, the task force acknowledges that rehabilitating Silver Lake is not a county responsibility and that the funds to do so would be raised in the community.
The work would be contingent on the relevant provincial and federal agencies issuing permits. The Port Dover Lions Club and the Port Dover Waterfront Preservation Association have agreed to take the lead on fundraising once all necessary approvals are in place.
If it comes to that, the rehabilitation of Silver Lake would likely have to wait till 2022 or later. In his report, Zerbes said repairs to the dam would be spread over two years to comply with provincial regulations for in-water work. Strict rules are in place forbidding anyone from disturbing aquatic habitat during spawning and breeding season.
The dam repairs at issue include stabilizing the deteriorating concrete and pinning the dam to the underlying bedrock. The contractor will also be required to remove the unused metal bridge adjacent to Chapman Street East.
Factoring in engineering services and construction costs, the report recommends debenture financing in the amount of $2.3 million.
When tenders were opened in October, the county received five bids exceeding $2 million. The highest of these was $2.78 million. The second lowest bid was $1.94 million.