L-shaped BLESS platform proposed

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Would cost $281K, report suggests

St. Albert should replace the BLESS viewing platform with a smaller, L-shaped one, says administration.

City council is set to receive a report on options for the Big Lake Environment Support Society viewing platform Monday.

The platform, which dates back to 1996, has been closed since June 2017 due to structural problems. Council has been debating what to do about the popular bird-watching spot since December, and asked administration to come back with more options by July 9.

Administration considered seven options for the platform, city capital projects manager Meredith Willacy writes in her report.

The simplest option is to remove and not replace the platform, which could be done next year for $123,400. The priciest would be to put in a floating platform for $395,400 – one that would last 12 years.

The city could spend $180,000 or $342,900 to repair the current platform, which would give it five to 10 years of life and take a year or two, depending on permits.

The city could also pull the platform back a bit so it’s no longer in the lakebed. This could last a decade, cost $278,200, and could be done by February 2020, but could run into cost and construction constraints, as it would put the platform closer to AltaLink and Fortis power lines.

The L-shaped option was one of two new ones presented at an open house in June. These options suggested removing the current platform and replacing it with either a rectangular or L-shaped one on shore that would not stick out into the water. Both would last up to 45 years and could be ready by early 2020, with the L-shaped option costing about $300 more at $280,900. Most of the written comments received at the open house favoured the L-shaped solution.

Willacy noted that all these options would require many permits under the Water Act and Migratory Bird Act as well as agreements with AltaLink and Fortis.

She also noted that the city could simply keep the platform closed and replace it later, but this carried the risk of people hopping the fence to use it. Council could try to sell this chunk of land to Alberta Parks, but the province might not want to buy it.

No matter what council does, the current platform will have to remain closed this year, Willacy noted.

Monday’s council meeting starts at 3 p.m., and can be viewed online at stalbert.ca/cosa/meetings/council-live.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.