Flood repairs to cost NCC up to $10M

Repairing the capital's bridges, pathways and shorelines after this spring's floods could cost the National Capital Commission between $6 million and $10 million, its board heard Thursday.

Flooding damaged paths, shorelines, bridges

The 2019 flooding left behind flooded pathways, eroded shorelines and damaged bridges. (National Capital Commission)

Repairing the capital's bridges, pathways and shorelines after this spring's floods could cost the National Capital Commission between $6 million and $10 million, its board heard Thursday.

The single greatest cost — up to $4 million over two years — is expected to be fixing the Portage Bridge, chief engineer Greg Kehoe said.

The bridge's piers are the main concern, but with the Ottawa River still high and fast-moving, divers haven't been able to take a good look at whether the piers need buttressing.

"We know the bridge is safe. There have been regularly, weekly inspections of the bridge since the floods. It's more ensuring the long-term longevity of the support features of the Portage Bridge," said CEO Tobi Nussbaum.

The NCC didn't budget for the unexpected damage, Nussbaum said, but the federal minister in charge of the NCC and Canadian Heritage have signalled they will help with the costs.

Urban planner and NCC board member Larry Beasley wants to see federal paths and shorelines rebuilt with lasting design in mind. (Nick Boisvert/CBC)

Pathways bounce back

The flooding took its toll on NCC riverside pathways, causing sinkholes and shoreline erosion.

But Kehoe said the NCC's decision to make the paths more resilient to flooding after the 2017 floods has paid off. That included lining shorelines with rocks, called rip-rap, to protect against further erosion.

The pathways along the Ottawa River and behind Parliament Hill cost nearly $2 million to repair after the 2017 floods, and were only recently completed. This time around, the work should cost $250,000 and take just two months.

In fact, the Parliament pathway has already been partly reopened, and contractors are working on the section from Bank Street to the Portage Bridge so people can use it by mid-July. 

On the Gatineau side, the Voyageurs Pathway is scheduled to be reopened by the end of July.

Leamy Lake Park and its flooded beach are still closed to the public.

Repairing the Portage Bridge is expected to cost $4 million over two years. (NCC)

'So much more we can do'

But board member Larry Beasley, Vancouver's former chief planner, said he wants more permanent fixes along shorelines.

"I see a lot of rip-rap, a lot of spontaneous things. I don't see a lot of urban design. That worries me," Beasley said.

He pointed to Germany and the Netherlands, countries he said are "embracing" flooding rather than simply protecting against it, and are finding ways to draw more people to their waterfronts.

"There's so much more we can do with these shorelines if we have to go in and do it," Beasley said.

Board member Mireille Apollon, from Gatineau, Que., warned her colleagues to plan for more flooding and tornadoes in the future.

NCC staff are currently studying how climate change will affect its property.

About the Author

Kate Porter


Kate Porter covers municipal affairs for CBC Ottawa. Over the past 15 years, she has also produced in-depth reports for radio, web and TV, regularly presented the radio news, and covered the arts beat.


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