It took seven days but by 6:30, Sept. 5, both Steve Braun and Matthew McComb of Matrix Solutions Inc. heaved sighs of relief when Perth council unanimously agreed to pass the budget deviation in the amount of $23,962 to hire their firm as project managers for the Rocky Ramp Phase II project.
The motion came to council Aug. 29 with a presentation of how the second phase of the Tay River restoration/preservation could be handled. That night, neither council members nor those members of the public attending council, were very laudatory in their comments about Phase I. Undeterred, Braun and McComb agreed to a site meeting at the Rocky Ramps a week later to look at the configuration of the river, the rocks, the step ledges, talk about fish spawning and river vegetation, and explain, or allay, actions and fears before proceeding to the next phase.
About 25 people met at Rocky Ramp I at the walk-over bridge across the little Tay, along with the two men and council members on Sept. 5. Braun and McComb willingly answered questions and agreed there could be some modification to the ramp extending under and beyond the bridge. “We can form the ramp differently if we are able to do that,” Braun said. Some questioned that the river flow seemed more like 30 per cent coming down the little Tay rather than the 20 per cent Braun discussed in his initial presentation.
He agreed, saying residents might be seeing less water than they have before but the design criteria they were given was an 80/20 split and they had achieved that. He added quickly that there were some changes that could be made, as in shaping, vegetation plants and grade. But, he said, “we can’t lose the function. The dam used to be straight up,” he said, gesturing and describing with his hands. “Now it’s turned on its side,” he went on, turning his hands flat. Someone questioned why plant more vegetation when there is more than enough there. It’s happening naturally, Braun said. “That’s the intention.”
Councillor Judy Brown summed up the difficulty. It comes down to “functionality versus aesthetics,” she said. Braun agreed. He wondered if there had been a miscommunication when listening to residents’ concerns about an “overkill on rock.”
He said there was certainly the possibility of moving some of the rock “but we have to ensure your properties are not in danger. We have to accommodate low [river] flows as well as monster flows. We’ve heard the message loud and clear – take as much out as we can while maintaining functionality.”
Braun said the company would be conducting a survey of the river on today — Sept. 6 — to get a better idea of how much rock could be removed.
A short time later, the site-meeting group met on the other side of the river along Harvey Street to view what would become Rocky Ramp II. A small boat tied to a small wharf would have a tough time making it into the river-proper through the plant vegetation. “Some of this vegetation will be scooped out and put on the other side of the river; some of it will stay here,’ Braun said. He promised to give homeowners details on what vegetation would be going in there. He further described the curving line of the new river bank.
The present dam “will be deconstructed.” The rock inside the crib structure of the dam will be moved and the crib itself removed as much of the wood is deteriorating, McComb explained. The crest of Rocky Ramp II will be about five metres beyond the present crest, Braun said, adding there will be some exposed rock. “We can’t build a flat Rocky Ramp.”
The work is expected to take six weeks or more, depending on weather and/or flood, and work is expected to start within two weeks.
The council meeting following the Rocky Ramp site meeting was short and to-the-point. The budget deviation was carried unanimously, councillors spoke in favour of the company, agreeing that this was a work in progress and if portions needed tweaking, that could be done.