After years of negotiations and planning, the all-season Pacific Gateway Marina in Port Renfrew is expected to open this summer with a capacity to hold 60 permanent boats and several transient boats.
The marina’s controversial development process fell into limbo last year when its proposed 150-boat capacity and location near the San Juan River created waves with Port Renfrew locals and the Pacheedaht First Nation, who pointed out its proximity to the river would affect salmon fishing patterns and ancient burial sites.
As a result, the marina was redesigned and relocated further down the shore, said Andrew Purdey, CEO of Ruskin Construction and PGM’s developer, adding that the effort was made to meet the requirements of the community.
“There was a process of working with the various special interest groups and we’ve come to a common ground, everyone’s happy, and that’s what we’re going to build,” he said, hoping the marina will open May 15, “if all goes well.”
The marina reduced its number of boats to 60, and will also include available berth to handle up to a 60-foot yacht all year long.
Recently, PGM renewed its temporary use permit with the Capital Regional District to operate as-is until its rezoning application goes through, said Purdey, though it won’t be for another year.
Still, he remains optimistic things will go smoothly from this point on.
“I want to build the most efficient sport fishing marina on the West Coast, and it will be a spot where people with the odds can come in,” Purdey said. “It’s good news in the community and the fishing community that we’ve built a facility where people can enjoy the West Coast safely 12 months a year.”
While the Pacheedaht agreed with the marina’s changes, the First Nation hopes the developer will address its concerns regarding the marina’s effect on fish habitat.
“There is no 100 per cent guarantee that the salmon migration will not be disrupted, and therefore ongoing evaluation of the impacts will be important in protecting the fishery,” wrote Pacheedaht spokesperson Kristine Pearson in an email.
Pearson added that no “agreement” was struck with the federal government, and that the First Nation felt it had no alternative but to accept the redesigned marina.
“Both governments have failed to uphold the honour of the Crown or to engage in meaningful consultation,” she said, adding that negotiations with PGM are ongoing.
While a rezoning application is still underway, Purdey said other marina facilities are in the plans, such as access to food, fuel and boat maintenance, including a lodge once the rezoning process is finished.