Emergency wharf at Descanso Bay back in service

Four months after the Descanso Bay emergency wharf on Gabriola was irreparably damaged by a deadhead log, installation of a new wharf wrapped up on Dec. 16.

The wharf is made of treated wood and foam floats encased in high density polyethylene. Representatives from the Regional District of Nanaimo, BC Emergency Health Services and the Nanaimo Port Authority were onsite Friday to review correct placement of equipment.

Final costing is still unknown, Darren Marshall, RDN senior manager of transit operations said, but the majority will be covered by insurance.

The RDN, who operates the wharf, learned the morning of Aug. 11 that a deadhead – submerged log – slightly greater in diameter than the wharf’s pilings, became lodged under the southeast corner of the float during high tide. The southeast corner of the wharf was raised two metres in the air causing the longitudinal timbers to break across the width of the float. High winds on Sept. 7 produced a new set of problems when the wharf broke in two sections and a pile became dislodged. Since the old wharf became inoperable, emergency services have been using Green Wharf.

There’s no telling if such an incident could happen again, which is why the RDN encourages anyone who sees logs floating near the wharf to contact the RDN for removal.

“Docks are vulnerable to deadheads or floating logs that can wedge themselves under a dock and cause damage,” Marshall said. “Docks are mostly constructed with wood frames, with foam billets filling cavities under the wharf and there are open areas that a log could wedge itself underneath.”

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder