High water levels of Lake Ontario caused delays in Breakwater Park project: Kingston

Construction crews are busy working through the winter trying to make up for lost time. Global News

A major facelift of Kingston’s Breakwater Park is running behind schedule.

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The delays could potentially have an impact on federal funding for the waterfront project.

Construction crews are busy working through the winter trying to make up for lost time.

Parks Development manager Neal Unsworth says the delays stem back to last year’s unprecedented high water levels of Lake Ontario.

Unsworth says retaining walls are usually put in place during summer and fall when water levels drop and the ground is dry.

“Even well into August, the contractor wasn’t able to do the works because the water levels were a foot-and-a-half to two-feet higher than has ever been known in history.”

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READ MORE: Warm fall helping Kingston’s Breakwater Park redevelopment

Along with last year’s high-water levels slowing the project down, this year’s weather conditions heading into spring will also affect how much ground can be made up.

Unsworth says the project is at the mercy of the elements.

“If we get another dramatically wet spring and the snow doesn’t stop and the site doesn’t dry up until April or May, the contractor will have a hard time getting the work done early in the year.”

The park improvement project has a budget of $5 million.

$500,000 has come from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation through Swim Drink Fish Canada, while the federal government is contributing up to $1 million.

The federal money is contingent upon some work being completed by the end of March.

Mayor Bryan Paterson says a request has been made for an extension to the deadline to keep the federal dollars flowing into the project.

“Under the circumstances, I think it’s a reasonable explanation for why an additional amount of time might be needed. I’m confident that we’ll be able to get that extension, be able to spend that money,” he said.

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The mayor adds if the extension request is denied, the city won’t lose out on the entire grant.

“We’ve already received the vast majority of that federal grant, obviously, we want to make sure that we’re able to maximize every dollar that we can.”

The original estimated budget for the project was $6.5 million before it was bid on by contractors.

The mayor says money from that original budget estimate is still available to cover any potential federal shortfall.

Breakwater Park was originally expected to be open to the public again by early summer — that timeline has shifted to late summer.

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