News Local

Petawawa Catwalk needs major work

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Town of Petawawa Municipal Building

Town of Petawawa Municipal Building

PETAWAWA – Petawawa town council needs to figure out what to do with the Catwalk and how it fits into the community's vision of the crown jewel of the town.


On Monday, the parks and recreation committee reported on the state of the Catwalk retaining wall paralleling the Petawawa River which is a prominent feature of Centennial Park.

Kelly Williams, parks and recreation manager, said the concrete and stone walls that were constructed in Centennial Park approximately 50 years ago, and is showing signs of wear and tear which needs immediate attention. The walls, with a combined linear length of 225 m, were originally designed to create a head pond within the park.

“The pond has been used for many decades as a place to swim, wade and enjoy the natural beauty of the immediate area along the bank of the Petawawa River,” he said. “Time, erosion from natural causes and climate change have contributed to the wearing of the walls at varying frequencies along its length.”

Williams said the most noticeable section requiring some level of repair is 80 meters of the top portion of the upstream wall. He said this section was originally constructed of stone and mortar and receives the most wear in the form of spring run-off each year. In the spring, fast running water scours the upstream wall over most of its length. This action removes mortar from the wall over time with a resulting loss of stones in various locations.

Williams said the town has been aware of this matter for some time. In 2005, the Town of Petawawa procured the services of Jp2g Consultants Inc. to conduct a condition review of the catwalk retaining wall and provide options with respect to restoration and refurbishment.

He said at this point, preliminary probable costs to implement the options in the report were estimated at that time to be about $500,000. Council decided to do nothing about it and the wall today remains essentially as originally constructed, albeit with 12 more years of wear from when it was last assessed in 2005.

Williams said since then the problem remains, except the estimates costs have gone up. Preliminary estimates of repairing the entire length of the wall state the work could run as high as $870,000.

A risk assessment on the state of the wall conducted by the town's insurance company states it will have to be either repaired or fenced off and signed to prevent public access. It is recommended warning signage be put up anyway until the wall can be fixed up.

Williams said any action to deal with the Catwalk wall hasn't been budgeted yet, as council itself will have to decide how to proceed first. He said once a plan of action has been determined, staff can then proceed with determining the costs involved and how to do it.

“We need to get a good handle on what we want to do first,” he said, which will involve a feasibility study and consulting the public.

Mayor Bob Sweet asked if this project could be phased, as it does represent a considerable expense to the town. He agreed something had to be done soon, considering it has been identified as a liability.

“We certainly have to do something,” he said, “I don't want to see it cave in or fail.”

Sweet said fencing and signage should be dealt with first due to liabilities, then they need to take a serious look at financing options, such as seeing if there is any grants which may be used to help out with the cost.

“This won't be done tomorrow or next year,” he said, but they can start the plan rolling.

Sweet said council should also look to the future to consider what they want done with the Catwalk and Centennial Park. One thing he said he would like is the top of the wall to be incorporated into the Emerald Necklace trail system.

Deputy Mayor Tom Mohns agreed something had to be done about the wall, and recommended the town start saving up for the work.

“We have to start putting money into reserves,” he said, then they need to do a study looking at all options and costs in order to determine what needs to be done.

Coun. Gary Serviss said he would like to be able to examine a number of creative design concepts of what could be done to improve the wall and Centennial Park in the bargain, He suggested setting up a contest with architectural and landscaping schools to see if they could come up with a design to consider.

Coun. James Carmody agreed something had to be done, and the sooner the better, as it only becomes more expensive to wait. He said public consultations are a must before they proceed.

“If we're looking at spending a million dollars to upgrade that park, we need to consult the public in a better way than just open houses,” he said.

Sweet said council will consider this as an information item for now, and plan to re-examine it along with staff recommendations in the New Year.

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