PORT ALICE—The last chance to fund a marina using grant money has vanished, but the notion is still alive, said the hamlet’s mayor.
“The dream isn’t dead, but it will be rejigged,” Gail Neely told the Gazette.
Neely told council — and more than 40 citizens during a regular meeting June 22 at the community centre — the provincially-funded Towns For Tomorrow grant was the last one to be denied.
Other grants had been applied for, but were given the thumbs down, including an Island Coastal Economic Trust’s application.
“They didn’t think our business plan was strong enough,” admitted Neely.
However, it seems the tide has turned against the marina idea since Port Alice residents narrowly voted yes on the project in 2007.
“There’s been a change of heart, times have changed,” said Coun. Dawn Marie Martynyk.
Still, there was criticism directed at the mayor and council by some citizens who believed $2 million was still earmarked for a new marina.
“One of our residents saw our financial plan and noticed a large amount of money was being spent on the marina,” Martynyk recalled.
Adding fuel to that fire was an article in the Gazette that stated Port Alice was spending $2 million on a marina.
“But that all depended on us getting grant money, because we tried to explain to (people in Port Alice) we couldn’t do it without that grant money,” said Martynyk.
“The marina was going to be funded with grants and that has been well known to people for the last four years,” she said.
A petition to kill the marina was circulated as well as a “damning letter,” said the mayor, who said she felt some of the attacks were personal.
But Neely and others maintain a new marina would breathe life into the stagnant economy.
“It would open up tourism for Port Alice because right now we have very little,” said the mayor.
“The marine tourism is out there but it goes by because we’re not on the marine map.”
The town originally wanted a 75-slip marina, but has reduced to 20 or 25 in a scaled down plan.
“It would mean a better profile in the eyes of tourists and would create some seasonal jobs,” said Neely.