Despite being somewhat damaged in early May by flooding during spring breakup, the Porritt Landing recreational area is expected to be open at its usual time this season.
“Porritt Landing was completely underwater,” said Stephane Millette, the recreation director with the Town of Hay River. “The water was reaching all the way up to the access road, both on the north and the south end. The parking area and boat launch were entirely under water when the water was at its highest there.”
Millette noted that Porritt Landing was not just impacted by floodwater.
“There were some very large chunks of ice that were floated up onto dry land,” he said. “The one piece I stood on after the water went back down I’d say was 20 feet by 20 feet (about six metres square).”
Millette said the flooding was over about two days as the spring breakup was pushing through the East Channel of the Hay River.
“I was able to get back in there on May 11,” he said, noting that, at that point, the water was at the level of the retaining walls.
As a result of the flooding, Millette said there was mostly minor damage to the infrastructure at Porritt Landing, with one notable exception.
The biggest impact was on the north retaining wall, which is the wall nearest the Coast Guard office, he said. “The tiebacks, which are big metal cables, they broke, basically. So we need to assess the full impact to that retaining wall. There’s going to be repairs needed to that wall, for sure.”
Other than that, it is believed the damage can be repaired relatively quickly.
“The parking area signs and some of the signs that speak to the operations at Porritt Landing, they were knocked over,” Millette said. “I think there were three signs that were knocked over. Some of our docks which were up at the highest point at Porritt Landing at the south end the water did reach those docks and lift them up and move them. So there was some surface damage of those docks.”
The damage to the docks was still being assessed as of late last week.
There was also some erosion of the parking area and the town’s public works department will be working to repair that damage.
Millette believes the cost for repairs will not be high, except for the unknown cost of repairing the north retaining wall.
“For most of it, I think we’re talking town labour and a few thousand dollars for some aggregate for the parking area,” he said. “We’re probably talking about five days of work for staff to fully assess and work on the signage and parking area and all that stuff. Realistically, most of it will be done as part of the normal set-up that we do for Porritt Landing for the docking season.”
As for the damaged retaining wall, the town will have to consult with an engineering firm to get a proper assessment of the structural integrity of the wall and see what repairs are needed.
Millette doesn’t think the damages will affect the opening date of Porritt Landing.
“The Porritt Landing season is officially June 15 to Sept. 15,” he said. “So at this point we expect to be operational and have the docks ready for people to get their boats in the water on June 15.”
The boat launch is already usable.
Since last year, the south retaining wall at Porritt Landing has been in need of repair.
However, Millette said the recent flooding doesn’t appear to have impacted that wall.
“We won’t be able to assess that completely until the water goes down and until we can dig along that retaining wall and have a good look,” he said. “But it doesn’t appear to have buckled any further. On the surface, it doesn’t look any worse than it was last year.”
Repair work for the south retaining wall had been planned for last year, but was delayed because of high water.
Millette noted the budget for that work has carried over to this year.