A presentation by Alan Jackman of North Island Marina led the agenda at Port McNeill’s June 3 town council meeting.
Jackman was there to brief council on the marina’s plans to expand their current operations to include better support for the increasing boat traffic from the lower mainland and pacific northwest.
Jackman noted that currently there are no facilities in Port McNeill capable of supporting – in terms of maintenance and repairs – the larger yachts that are arriving in the port. Referring to boats in the 48 to 60 foot and above range, he explained, “It has always been our dream to expand the harbour to better service the larger commercial and pleasure boats.”
On behalf of the marina, Jackman was asking council for a letter of support, indicating they backed the general concept of an expanded port facility, stating, “We are hopeful you see the benefits to the investment in the community.”
Although the idea has been talked about as far back as 1985, the plan presented to council remains in the concept stage and has yet to involve such agencies as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as well as the Ministries of Environment for both the province and federal governments.
According to Jackman, while local First Nations are aware of the plans, no formal consultations have begun.
When Mayor Gaby Wickstrom asked about the need for an Archaeological Impact Assessment, Jackman explained that the need for an assessment wouldn’t be known until they see, “…what the first few shovels find.”
Later in a telephone interview, Jackman explained that nothing had ever been discovered in previous construction projects on the property, but he was aware of the need to move forward cautiously.
Coun. Derek Koel and Coun. Shelley Downey mentioned that current zoning doesn’t allow for the project and would likely require a review and possible amendment to the Official Community Plan (OCP).
Following the question period, Koel put forward a motion asking that staff prepare a report detailing the implications the project might have on the OCP and what liabilities council and the town might have with respect to a letter of support.
Objecting to the motion and resulting delay, Coun. Ryan Mitchell asked if there was any real benefit to the staff preparing the report.
The motion was passed, with Mitchell abstaining and the request for the support letter has been handed over to staff. No timeline for reporting back to council was provided.
In other council news, The Tourism Steering Committee updated council on their progress, advising that they had selected committee members and would be asking Council to approve the choices they had made.
A motion to appoint the following committee members was approved: Bruce McMorran and Kristie Eccleston (appointed for a one year term) and Jonna Dixon, Liza Furney, Cheryl Jorgenson, Bill McQuarrie and Boni Sharpe (appointed for a two year term).
The steering committee will be tasked with developing short and long-term plans for growing the tourism industry in Port McNeill. The goal of the committee is to help both town and industry planners develop and implement successful strategies that will attract more tourists and extend the stay of those who do travel to the area.
Next council meeting is June 17 at 7 p.m. and the public is welcome to attend. For copies of agenda and previous minutes, visit www.town.portmcneill.bc.ca.
– Bill McQuarrie article