Proposed marina expansion in Port Renfrew in limbo

Waiting for provincial government approval to move forward

The fate of the new expanded marina, which was initially set to become a major place for moorage in Port Renfrew, remains unknown as its developers, Pacific Gateway, await a final yae or nay from the provincial government.

In addition to the approval, the project also raised concerns in early May with Renfrew residents and the Pacheedaht First Nations in regards to the impact it would have on the community, some of which included potentially obstructing natural views and disrupting important fishing corridors.

Andrew Purdey, CEO of Ruskin Construction and Pacific Gateway, said the marina’s design has already been downsized significantly since then – with pressure remaining on the province to make a decision.

“We’ve done all we can and compromised substantially, so now it’s in the hands of the government,” he said. “We’ve decreased the marina by a third, or two-thirds of the original size.”

Originally planned for year-round operation, the 150-boat marina was to be located near the mouth of the San Juan river – subsequently replacing the seasonal 55-boat marina that currently operates in the area under a temporary three-year licence.

With capacity reduced now down to 97 boats, Purdey said that all the possible adjustments have been made to the original design in response to the community’s concerns.

“We’ve accommodated what we believe are all the viewscape concerns and other concerns that we were aware of to the extent that we could,” Purdey said, adding that beyond this point, trimming the design down any further would no longer be economical.

And though the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (NRO) have apparently accepted it as feasible, Purdey noted again that it’s purely a decision now of the community and the government.

“Whatever their decision is, we’ll respect it, and we’ll either build in accordance with our revised plans, which is a third smaller in every direction, or we’ll just take our capital and develop another marina in another location where people want development,” he said.

Purdey explained that if the marina doesn’t go through, the current one will be significantly reduced to a small private one, albeit that would not be ideal.

“As a Canadian citizen, it’s a real disgrace if we can’t responsibly develop, it’s a real shame,” he said.

Purdey was also the lead developer behind the Mill Bay marina, with a similar intention to provide a safe haven for ships trying to ward off rough seas.