The City of White Rock has a new wish at the very top of its Christmas list.
Aided by boats set adrift, the winds and waves battered a hole through the structure, completely demolishing a central section by the late afternoon.
It’s not the first time that severe storms have threatened the existence of the 100 year-plus structure – according to Years of Promise, Lorraine Ellenwood’s authoritative history of the city, it was “badly damaged by buffeting gales” as early as 1915, when work was underway to extend it only months after the pier’s official opening on Nov. 14, 1914.
Storms and the need for extensive repairs every decade were a fact of the pier’s early life, and, following huge waves in February 1947 that caused several piles to be pushed out of place, a contemporary newspaper account went as far as saying “the pier is in poor condition and considered beyond repair.”
Each time it seemed the pier was done – including the time in the late 1970s the federal government said it intended to demolish it – stubborn White Rockers have rallied around to save their beloved wharf.
It’s never been closer to the brink than this, however.
Former Mayor and MLA Gordie Hogg – now South Surrey-White Rock MP – grew up in White Rock and fondly recalls the youthful bravado of stormy days when he and other schoolmates would hang on to the rail at the end of the pier as waves crashed over the breakwater around them.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he admitted, adding that he is investigating whether federal funds could be tapped to help repair the pier.
What he has seen before, he added – and is seeing again now – is a re-stirring of the community’s affection for the venerable structure, a favourite strolling destination not just for city residents but people from all over the region, and beyond.
That never-say-die spirit is alive and well in Mayor Darryl Walker’s statement to PAN Thursday: “We will not lose that pier…come hell or high water, we’ll make sure we have that pier.”
High water, we’ve had. And paying for repairs may play a another form of havoc on city budgeting. But it seems likely White Rock will not give up its landmark structure – at least, not without one hell of a fight.