Campers clash with PAPA over change

The Port Alberni Port Authority wants to make changes at China Creek Marina to attract more users.

The Port Alberni Port Authority wants to make changes at China Creek Marina to attract more users. But a group of seasonal campers—some of whom have been renting space for their fifth wheels and mooring their boats for more than a decade—say the changes are penalizing faithful clients.

After a flurry of e-mails from numerous seasonal campers and businesses that were worried they would be affected if the campers left the marina, port authority president Zoran Knezevic said “I think we’ve settled all the complaints.”

PAPA wants to attract more users to its facilities, make its operation more efficient “and to market the marina to attract more customers,” Knezevic said.

He told one business owner in an e-mail that he was aware improvements “may not be aligned with some of our clients’ expectations.”

Sid Alamo of Nanaimo, who has camped at China Creek Marina for the past three years, and fished here for 11 years—relocated from the Lower Mainland to Nanaimo because of its proximity to Port Alberni. He stays at the marina for five months out of the year, and objected to a proposed change that he said would force him to remove his camper during the winter instead of paying to store it at the campsite.

The access road to China Creek makes moving boats and campers a challenge, said Alamo.

Knezevic said some campers misunderstood changes to storage and hydro charges, but thought everything had been ironed out by last week.

“Cecilia (Addy, marina manager) is going to find a solution,” he said.

One compromise PAPA was happy to reach was opening the marina a month early, in April.

The port authority leases the marina from the Province of B.C., and had to ask permission to extend the lease. The marina was typically open May to September, but will now open in April, Knezevic said.

Ron Lafreniere, who brings his boat to China Creek every year from Alberta, said the monthly moorage rates are among the highest on Vancouver Island because the marina is only open five months out of the year, but Knezevic said the seasonal users are paying an adjusted rate.

“The seasonal amount would be twice as much if not more, if use was calculated per month,” he noted.

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