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Hall Street Pier project receives major recognition despite still not being finished

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
December 8th, 2023

The City’s Pier Project is already receiving accolades despite it not being completed.

On Thursday the City of Nelson was given the Award of Excellence from Canadian Architect Magazine for the Hall Street Pier project.

Although the project is behind schedule and over budget, it is slated for completion in spring, 2024, intending to complete a vision from the municipality that would see Baker and Hall streets connected to the waterfront.

The design of the pier was viewed as a “key investment in building critical community infrastructure for all walks of life and the vision of making Nelson’s waterfront an important part of everyday public life,” noted the awards program jury.

“The design articulation of how a shared and undervalued community asset has a voice through architectural exploration is so important. In this case, the cut-out pier designed to allow safe swimming — coupled with a series of open and community-responsive spaces including a shaded portal, porches and paths — will create an appropriately scaled, but powerful lakeside public space,” wrote juror Claire Weisz.

Since 1967, the magazine’s annual national awards program has recognized excellence in projects from across the country in the design and construction phase of work.

The project

“The pier will be a four-season, day and night, attraction for locals and tourists alike. It proudly showcases Nelson’s heritage (with the Ladybird speedboat on permanent display), celebrates our culture of wood, and offers a range of useable amenity spaces (including a swimming area),” noted a press release from the City.

The canopy structure that forms part of the pier is still to be completed and is expected to provide a sheltered activity space that supports four-season amenities, including large events, seasonal markets and performances.

In a statement, Mayor Janice Morrison said that the Hall Street Pier project “symbolizes the spirit of our community, blending innovation with heritage and creating a space where residents and visitors can come together to celebrate the beauty of Nelson.”

Back track

In September the City revealed that the original consultants on the Hall Street Pier project pulled out, but it would still be able to complete it by the end of the year.

Chris Johnson — the City’s general manager of Community Planning, Climate and Infrastructure — said finalized designs for the project — to have the canopy structure built for the pier — had been sent out, with the cladding to be attached to it early next year.

“Essentially, how the process has gone has resulted in what appears to be a time of no work down there,” he told City council recently during its Sept. 12 meeting.

He admitted the project had an issue with the original consultants on the design. City manager Kevin Cormack said the original team “walked away” from the project.

“One of those businesses had created the design, but not to a level that it was buildable, so when they walked away (the City) had to take a concept and actually construct this thing,” he said. “And that’s what has taken the time, to actually get into the detail of how this structure actually works and how all of these things tie together.”

All of that has compounded to result in the longer gap, said Johnson.

“But, ultimately, we are looking good and on schedule to have it done. The structure should be up and done by the end of the year and then the cladding starting in late December,” he said, noting that it would be complete within the next five months.

Source: The Nelson Daily, September, 2023

Critical mass

The canopy was a critical part of the Hall Street Pier project said architect Matt Stanley of Stanley Office of Architecture (SOA) when he presented the project to council on Feb. 3.

It was critical to the overall success and the successful completion of the project, he explained, and it was the gesture that would draw people to the area.

“It is the landmark that will connect Baker Street and Hall Street down to the waterfront; it has that scale and that ability to connect to draw people to the area,” he said at the time.

The canopy and the pier project have been something that had been in city planning documents and policies for many years, including the Sustainable Waterfront Plan and Downtown Master Plan.

“It is a place where people can connect to the water by the swimming area, and the floating docks and the pier itself,” Stanley continued. “It is a place where people can connect to our history, our heritage and our culture.

“And where that is happening is the canopy. The canopy is the event space, the sheltering space and it is that iconic landmark that is drawing people to the area.”

The pier area — called a critical mass of public amenity by Stanley — had the foundation in place and was ready to receive the canopy.

Source: The Nelson Daily, February, 2023

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