At Perth’s town council meeting on Tuesday May 24th the motion to authorize a rehabilitation project for the rocky ramps in the Tay River received final approval but not without another debate on the merits of the plan and the public’s expectations of the outcome. The ramps were first installed in 2015 to replace an aging concrete dam in an attempt to improve flows through the small canal known as the Little Tay. During low flows that small body of water that winds through the downtown business sector emits some foul odours that have plagued neighbouring businesses, particularly those with waterside patio seating. The problem and possible solutions have been regular topics on council and committee meetings ever since the ramps were first installed.
Earlier this year it was revealed that at least one lawsuit has been filed against the town by a waterfront property owner claiming their rights to enjoy their property have been violated by the town’s actions. And representatives from Parks Canada and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority appeared before council to inform them that the watershed that feeds the Tay couldn’t supply the flows required.
The position of Mayor John Fenik has been that the ramps are a piece of public infrastructure that is broken and need to be fixed. Other councillors felt that regardless of the chances of success something had to be tried. A representative from the consulting firm that designed the new repair project stated that the goal was to create a 90/10 flow split during high spring flows (the majority going down the larger waterway) and an almost even 50/50 split during lower water levels in summer, fall, and in drought conditions.
The cost to do this in house was pegged at $146,900 and that was approved with work expected to start in October of this year. A related motion to fund a 5-year study of flows after the ramps are repaired was deferred to a future meeting. It carried a price tag of almost $50K.