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Historic Tiny bridge and dam could get disaster mitigation funding

·3 min read

Rehabilitation of a century-old bridge and dam in Tiny is being pitched through a federal disaster mitigation funding application proposal.

Tim Leitch, director of public works, brought a report to council during a recent committee of the whole meeting, and explained how the Withall Dam on Concession 4 East could qualify for nearly $1 million in cost coverage by the Government of Canada.

“We have a large project on our forecast through our OSIM (Ontario Structure inspection Manual), which is our annual bridge report,” Leitch explained of the Withall Dam. “This bridge does have a dam and bypass on it. Through our OSIM report, it’s showing that we need to do significant works in the next five years.”

Concrete repairs, removal of the dam’s bypass flume, restorations of embankments, guiderail repairs, and further infrastructure on the dam estimated the cost at $2,447,000 to be spread across the five-year project.

In addition, the Withall Dam is classified as a historic structure dating back to 1912. As such, an environmental assessment, hydraulic designs, and assessments of the structural design and geotechnical estimates would need to be addressed.

“In this public works report, we applied for a fund,” said Leitch. “It’s called the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) through Infrastructure Canada, which would cover about 40% of our costs for projects to help us with disaster mitigation, climate change, these types of things.”

The federal DMAF program was launched in 2018, committing $2 billion over 10 years and since adding nearly $1.4 billion over 12 years to invest in structural and natural infrastructure projects, to increase the resilience of communities impacted by natural disasters triggered by climate change.

Small scale projects, identified as having costs between $1 million and $20 million, would qualify the Withall Dam for consideration. Also, the requirements for the project would qualify the dam through: risk to structure from increasing storm activity and severity; environmental risk from built up silt against the dam; and risk to the public as a result of recently removed and replaced stop logs from unknown individuals.

“This opportunity would give us approximately $980,000 of funding on the $2.5 million project, which is very attractive from a township’s standpoint,” Leitch shared. “As the second part of this, we will be including in the 2022 capital budget about $80,000 to start the process, which will enable us to start getting accurate costing and also a schedule of what we need to do and how we’re going to do it.

“We want to make sure that we phase this out over time so that we don’t take a huge capital hit in one year,” added Leitch.

Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma asked Leitch about partnership with the Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) in regards to environmental concerns he’d been informed of with the location, of which the director affirmed the organization was aware.

“It is a very complicated project. There’s a lot of factors from the environment. The structure, the watering rights, and the impacts it has on upstream and downstream properties,” said Leitch.

Coun. Gibb Wishart inquired if drainage or pumping could be introduced on the dam to control the flow of area waters, given how climate change has affected the levels of Georgian Bay. Leitch replied that maintaining flows, not changing them, would be staff’s intent; additionally, climate change would factor into not just the Withall Dam project plan and design aspects but for all township projects.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny township’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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