During Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting in Perth, Council once again deliberated the future of the Rocky Ramp on the Tay River. Ahead of a vote on placing $130 000 into the 2021 budget for repairing the Rocky Ramp and increasing flow to the Little Tay, Steve Braun of Matrix Engineering presented Council with a proposal for modifications to the existing Rocky Ramp.
Since the completion of the first Rocky Ramp in 2015 and the second in 2017, two dry years have led to low flow and stagnant water along the Little Tay. Townspeople and businesses have complained about the unsightliness and smell.
Braun explained that too little water is flowing down the Little Tay, percentage wise, and this is exacerbated during periods of low flow. Initially, the Rocky Ramp split aimed to divert 20% of the flow into the Little Tay, with 80% flowing into the main Tay River. At average and peak flow this is occurring as intended, but with two dry years in a row, Braun explained, “very low flows have become a problem.”
Noting that the rocky ramp is relatively new, and that long term results weren’t expected to be evident for the first five years, Councillor Brown asked if Braun was “reasonably sure that fixing the ramp will fix the low-flow problem.” He explained that natural settlement at the main crest of the rocky ramp has decreased the percentage of water flowing into the Little Tay during dry periods. “Just enough settlement has occurred that during the low flows it becomes a 90-10% split” between the main Tay and the Little Tay respectively. Expanding the split will increase the flow to the Little Tay at its most critical time (such as prolonged dry spells).
Deputy Mayor MacPherson asked why the original intent of an 80-20% split was not accomplished. Braun noted that while the natural factors are variable and impossible to entirely predict – “We’re building a river, not a Swiss watch” – the adjustments Matrix proposes would certainly increase the flow to the Little Tay, particularly during periods of low flow. “The effect of the settlement under extremely low flows was not anticipated,” Braun explained, adding, “Parks Canada controls the flow to a large extent along the river.”
Council was divided as to the urgency of the problem. “Why now?” asked Councillor Brown, “Can’t it wait? Why now when we’re struggling with Covid?” “We have a chance to fix it now,” expressed Councillor Smith, “The past two summers, the Little Tay has been swampy. Businesses and townspeople alike are dismayed at the state of it.”
Council decided to put the $130 000 in the budget for 2021, but will seek clarity from Parks Canada before investing further in the Rocky Ramp Modification.