The Victoria company Zapco Welding and Fabricating has been awarded the contract to build an aluminum and stainless steel cable handrail along the Ogden Point breakwater.
“The decision came down to a good price, capacity and that we’ve worked with this company a number of times in the past,” said Curtis Grad, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
The non-profit harbour authority owns the property and invited 10 companies to submit proposals for handrails within its design, price and timeline specifications.
Zapco has previously built handrails at Fisherman’s Wharf and in the Inner Harbour.
“We’re very pleased to get going on this project and get it open before the good weather comes,” Grad said.
The estimated cost of the handrails is $425,000, which does not include concrete and other work, he said. The original estimate for the project, which will be paid for by the harbour authority, was $400,000 to $500,000.
The handrails will be built off-site at Zapco’s Langford warehouse and at Ogden Point. They will be fabricated in 12-metre sections, then installed in 20 to 30 panels.
“This will reduce the installation time and the time the breakwater is closed,” Grad said. The 700-metre-long breakwater is expected to be closed for four to six weeks, with work completed by March 31.
Zapco owner Tom Burns said his company will likely add two people to its team of five for the project.
The handrail installation at the landmark, which was built in 1916, has spurred some controversy. Those opposed say a handrail would impede the view and experience of using the breakwater.
The plan to install railings was prompted by government regulations to keep harbour authority workers safe. It will also improve safety and access for people with mobility issues.
There was no public consultation prior to the decision, but the response has inspired a few tweaks to the project, including rub rails for wheelchairs and a possible staircase near the middle of the breakwater.
Bikes, skateboards, in-line skates and pets will remain restricted from the three-metre-wide walkway. However, strollers and wheelchairs will have improved access.
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