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Large crowd opposes shipyard in Port Harvey

“We are greatly distressed by the whole thing.”

A large, passionate crowd flooded the Regional District of Mount Waddington’s public hearing to discuss a proposed marine industrial zone.

Many people in attendance strongly voiced their opposition to bylaw 895, which if approved, would allow a marine industrial zone in Port Harvey, which is located on West Cracroft Island in the Broughton Archipelago.

“This would allow Mike Buttle Services Ltd. to undertake marine industrial uses in these areas,” said Jeff Long, Manager of Planning and Development Services for the regional district, at the hearing on July 18.

Long then read from the bylaw. “It would permit as principle uses dismantling construction and repair of marine vessels docks and float camps, storage of marine vessels and docks, float camps, and materials used in construction of these items.”

“We are greatly distressed by the whole thing,” said George Cambridge, owner of Port Harvey Marine Resort, which is the small marina catering to the tourism industry.

“Not only is our business going to suffer and probably close, but our residential property value will be diminished,” continued Cambridge. “People do not buy property in that area for them to have industrial development like that.”

Cambridge also sighted bylaw 890, which states that new uses and developments must be compatible with existing developments. “This shouldn’t have even got to this point,” he stressed.

Proposed bylaw 895 contains multiple conditions that Mike Buttle would have to meet in order to conduct industrial work in the area, including pollution prevention and another requiring the provision of potable water and sewage treatment and disposal services.

Warren Goossen, Project Manager for Mike Buttle Services Ltd., read a statement on Buttle’s behalf. “I felt it best I do not attend the meeting today as I have the tendency to be an emotional person. I believe a facility like this is a much needed and benefiting addition to this entire coast — I have hired professionals for guidance on development, design, and operation.”

The statement concluded with Buttle saying, “I am willing to enter into agreement with the regional district in the form of a restrictive covenant,” which is a clause restricting the use of land so that the value and enjoyment of adjoining land will be preserved.

Many pleasure boaters who frequent the Broughton Archipelago showed up to voice their concerns over the noises coming from Buttle’s property.

“If this proposition goes through you’re not going to get boats coming in because we are not going to put up with that when we can have a very peaceful turn at other places in this area,” said Richard Cuttriss, a boater from Southern California.

Paul Giffin, a resident of Gabriola Island, said if he wants “to hear sledge hammers and heavy equipment I don’t need to go all the way to Port Harvey to do it.”

Dr. Roger Hopkinson, from Edmonton, is the owner of an island in the direct line of sight of Buttle’s property. Hopkinson was planning on building his retirement home on the island. “The plans were fully developed by Pioneer Log Homes, but the threat of turning Port Harvey into a noisy industrial eye-sore has put that dream on hold.”

Environmental concerns were also raised by a number of speakers. “How much hazardous material is allowed in Port Harvey?” asked retired geologist John Devlin from Half Moon Bay. “What engineering plan is available to ensure zero emission into the environment?”

On the other hand, Lloyd Muckle, who owns Sea Roamer Marine Services, was in favour of the bylaw. He commented that “a barge repair facility is needed on the North Island. We spend $1,500,000 on maintenance and $700,000 of that will be spent in Victoria and Vancouver, because there is no shipyard in this part of the world.”

Prior to the public hearing, the district received 65 written statements from the public regarding the proposed bylaw, which will also be entered into offical record.

The regional district will now have three options at its meeting on August 15. The district will either deny the proposed bylaw, table the bylaw pending additional information which would require another public hearing, or proceed with the bylaw.

If the regional district decides to proceed with the bylaw it will go to a second and third reading before it’s officially adopted.