UPDATED: Castlegar’s Twin Rivers / Millennium Park project progressing

UPDATED: Castlegar's Twin Rivers / Millennium Park project progressing

An overview of the Twin Rivers / Millenium Park site showing the location of the three ponds and proposed haul road.

An overview of the Twin Rivers / Millenium Park site showing the location of the three ponds and proposed haul road.

Large drilling rigs began working in Castlegar’s Twin Rivers / Millennium Park Wednesday, as a $1.2 million improvement project moves ahead.

With the infusion of $400,000 in the form of a grant from the provincial Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development’ Community Recreation Program, construction of the source water well –which will feed three natural swimming ponds — is underway.

“Drilling started today and construction is expected to be complete probably in July of this year,” said Chris Barlow, director of transportation and civic works for the City of Castlegar.

“We’re going to be taking ground water and introducing it into the ponds and keeping a fresh supply of water into the ponds,” Barlow said.

The water will cascade between the ponds, each of which will vary in depth, before being reintroduced into the river. Sand will also be trucked in from a nearby site during landscaping and surround each of the three ponds. New walkways are also part of the project.

Barlow said yearly maintenance costs on the new development have not been projected as yet. One small cost will be monitoring the water quality.

“We’ll still be testing the water to make sure that there isn’t anything building up,” said Barlow.

What used to be a nearby gravel pit will aid in construction efforts and then become an off-leash dog park.

Barlow said the intent is to have slides and other interactive elements, so kids can slide between the ponds. The deepest pond is also expected to have a floating dock  people can swim out to and relax on.

“We have a window of time to work this spring to build,” Barlow said. “We’re building a [earthen] dam between the ponds and the river which we will be working behind. The ponds will be lined with a clay liner to keep our water in and river water out.”

As for the prospect of flooding, such as what was experienced last year, he said water modelling done to date suggests a “strong possibility the lower pond will flood, maybe every 10 years or less.”

The area of the lower pond is a natural back eddy and flooding is not expected to cause any damage as long as the water comes up slowly and retreats slowly.

Other than flooding and cost concerns, Barlow said he hasn’t had to field many concerns from the public.

“We haven’t heard any great opposition to the project. I think part of that is because it came though a public panning process.

“We took input from the public and one thing they all identified was having a safe place to swim and interact with the river. The problem with our river is it goes up and down so much and there such a fast current. We do have an existing beach area but no guarantee what the water height will be, if its full of algae, or anything.”

Significant material will need to be transported within the park to create the ponds and some trees may have to be removed.

There will be disruption to pathways during construction, but the exact dates and extent of the closures will not be known until the project is awarded; the tender process for the work is expected to close March 11.

Once those dates are known they will be published.