The Port Renfrew Marina

Pacheedaht and marina developers at odds

Expansion of marina in Port Renfrew does not sit well with some

As the fate of Port Renfrew’s proposed Pacific Gateway Marina still awaits final approval from the province, talks of some sort of truce between PGM and the Pacheedaht First Nation remain in limbo.

The turbulent marina project has been in the planning stages for the last three years — ever since it obtained a temporary permit (which expires next spring) to operate seasonally with a maximum output of 55 boats. It was only when it grew to 150 boats when public outcry from the Port Renfrew community and Pacheedaht really began echoing up the hill.

“Pacheedaht’s concerns have not been met by the new design proposal, and no attempts have been made by PGM to begin the conversation,” said Kristine Pearson, Pacheedaht Referrals Coordinator and media spokesperson, adding that concerns grew even bigger when news broke out that the marina design had shrunk from 150 boats to 97.

Pearson said it is not the fact this is a new development that’s the issue, but the way its implementation into the Port Renfrew community was handled in first place.

“It is unfortunate as Pacheedaht has clearly expressed the intention of the Nation as being open to economic development opportunities, and alternatives to the existing Pacific Gateway Marina Proposal,” she said. “Pacheedaht is not anti-development. It is just important that development occurs sustainably and in a way that respects and recognizes First Nations constitutional rights and culture.”

In contrast, Andrew Purdey, CEO of Ruskin Construction and the developer of the Pacific Gateway Marina, told the Sooke News Mirror back in May that PGM has done all it can to accommodate the community’s needs and that “trimming the design down any further would no longer be economical.”

At this point, there is still no confirmation from the province or PGM on whether the marina is happening  — though a recent Pacheedaht First Nation press release noted that it looks forward to continuing this dialogue on the matter.