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Discovery Centre faces long recovery process

A statue to two herons stand on display in front of the Riverbank Discovery Centre in Brandon on an overcast Monday.

TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

A statue to two herons stand on display in front of the Riverbank Discovery Centre in Brandon on an overcast Monday.

The devastating effects of Brandon’s historic 2011 flood are still being felt at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.

A pair of cyclists along the duck pond trails at the Riverbank Discovery Centre in 2010.

Enlarge Image

A pair of cyclists along the duck pond trails at the Riverbank Discovery Centre in 2010. (FILE PHOTO)

Bernie Chrisp, president of Brandon Riverbank Inc., said it will be years before the area is back to what it once was.

"Not only did it take out the pond … but it also altered our pathways," Chrisp said. "So any people that come down there for walks and that kind of thing, we’ve lost that business."

Chrisp gave a presentation to city council Monday night, updating councillors on 2012 operations and ongoing flood recovery and remediation efforts.

"We’ve got a mould problem in our building, so we’re working with some different companies in regards to getting rid of the mould situation," he said.

The Discovery Centre’s crawl space is the only area affected by mould.

Also in the past year, the organization completed several grant applications.

Some shrub replanting was done along the driveway and they have played an active role in the 2017 Canada Summer Games bid.

Brandon Riverbank Inc. is a not-for-profit organization, which was established in 1995. In 2000, the organization assumed responsibility for the delivery of tourism services on behalf of the city.

More than $5 million was invested in 15 years, developing the Riverbank as a community gathering place.

Unfortunately, the flood of 2011 took just two months to destroy what had been built, affecting every project and aspect of their operations.

Chrisp said they are looking for leadership and financial help from the city in their ongoing cleanup and remediation.

An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 trees died from extended high water, which has created a significant removal process.

"There could be a possibility of some elm disease in some of the elm trees, and so some of those trees have to be removed over the next little while, so we’re working towards that," he said, adding re-planting is vital to ensure the stability of the riverbank.

"A number of the paths have been altered or destroyed because of the diking that was done," Chrisp said. "Our lights are out also, so ... we can’t really do any repairs on the lights, until we get our paths back in operation, so it’s kind of a catch-22 type situation."

The City of Brandon is in the process of constructing permanent dikes.

"Once that’s done then we can go to work and make sure that our pathways are put back to where they were before," he said. "They may be in a little bit of a different location, but certainly there’s some work being done there."

The Riverbank has been working closely with the city’s engineering and parks departments on this ongoing remediation process along the riverbank and at Eleanor Kidd and Queen Elizabeth parks.

"It’s certainly going to take some time, those things don’t happen overnight and of course it takes money," Chrisp said.

In its 2011 audited financial statement, Brandon Riverbank posted a deficit for the first time in the organization’s history.

Chrisp outlined a remediation timeline of 2013 to 2016. By spring 2013, Chrisp said they hope to have the trout pond open.

"It was flooded and got some nasty types of fish in there, but they will die off in the winter time," he said. "So we’ll be putting new trout in."

Also in 2013, there are plans for tree removal and planting at Eleanor Kidd Park, and continued work on dikes and pathways around the Discovery Centre.

In 2014, plans include tree removal and re-planting at Queen Elizabeth Park, as well as remediation and redevelopment of the gardens at Eleanor Kidd Park.

The Riverbank Discovery Centre has continued with interpretative programs for students and hosted many different events in its building. The pedestrian bridge is open and some paths are still in use.

"We’re working as hard as we can in order to try to get the facility back to where it was before," he said. "We’re open for business and we certainly want people to come down and enjoy the facility and enjoy the whole Assiniboine River corridor."

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 18, 2012

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The devastating effects of Brandon’s historic 2011 flood are still being felt at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.

Bernie Chrisp, president of Brandon Riverbank Inc., said it will be years before the area is back to what it once was.

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The devastating effects of Brandon’s historic 2011 flood are still being felt at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.

Bernie Chrisp, president of Brandon Riverbank Inc., said it will be years before the area is back to what it once was.

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