Port Alberni looks to move public works yard out of tsunami zone

Public works facility was built in 1966

The City of Port Alberni wants to move its public works yard out of the tsunami inundation zone.

Wilf Taekema, director of engineering and public works, was in council on Monday, Jan. 13 to ask for $50,000 to be included in this year’s budget in order to explore the possibility of moving the city’s public works facility. The current facility, located on Sixth Avenue, was built in 1966 and is located in the tsunami inundation zone.

After Exercise Coastal Response in 2016, where Port Alberni was the site of a mock magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the city commissioned an assessment report from McGill and Associates, looking specifically at the city’s public works facility.

READ MORE: Exercise Coastal Response

The report from McGill and Associates, received at the end of 2019, states that the public works facility in its current location will not be able to fulfill its emergency operations function. The building will also not be able to withstand seismic forces or inundation from a tsunami.

The report suggests that the best mitigation approach is to relocate the facility to a new location entirely. Taekema says that a “number of sites” have been looked at, including city-owned land adjacent to the Fall Fair Grounds, two sites on Maebelle Road (outside city limits) and a piece of city-owned property on Cherry Creek Road.

Council agreed on Monday to include $50,000 in the budget to do some engineering work and preliminary design work, although staff has not yet been identified where this funding will come from. In order to be eligible for grant funding, said Taekema, the city needs to have a shelf-ready project prepared.

“It will be a costly endeavour, obviously,” said Taekema. “But we recommend that the process start.”

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