Council balks at Clutesi Haven lease renewal

The City of Port Alberni is considering ending its lease, or at least modifying the terms, with the port authority at Clutesi Haven Marina.

The City of Port Alberni is considering ending its lease, or at least modifying the terms, with the Port Alberni Port Authority at Clutesi Haven Marina.

The last time the port authority signed a lease for the land was in 1994 for $1 a year. That lease was up in 2014.

Re-leasing the Clutesi Haven Marina land to the port authority for 20 years is “unacceptable,” Coun. Chris Alemany said at city council on Monday night.

“It’s been too long that the Clutesi Marina Land has sat there unused and undeveloped,” said Alemany, adding that “a parking lot is not good enough.”

As operating the marina and boat launch is an “essential service,” Alemany said, the agreement should be rewritten to allow PAPA access but not to lease them the land itself.

“We can simply guarantee them access, much like they have access to Centennial Pier through Argyle Street, and then we can do what we hope we can do with that land… develop it, make a park, whatever. Have a community process to develop that.”

Coun. Dan Washington counselled against “pulling the rug out” from under the port authority and instead suggested staff “meet with them and encourage them to do some development down there.”

Following a meeting between the city and the port authority, city staff had prepared a motion to renew the lease for Clutesi Haven Marina to the Port Alberni Port Authority  for 20 years at a rate of $1 a year.

Included in this lease agreement was a new clause stating that the city and the port authority would “mutually agree to pursue a commercial development on the land which is compatible with the existing marina use and maximizes opportunities for tourism/commercial activities on the lands.”

However, Coun. Sharie Minions said that the clause wasn’t enough to push the port authority to develop anything on that land.

“It doesn’t seem like the port authority is really overly interested in developing that portion of land so although we have the development clause [in the lease agreement], it doesn’t give any time frames that they need to develop the land in or any real specifics,” Minions said. She added that she was concerned “the land is just going to sit there for another 20 years.”

According to city manager Ken Watson, the city has leased Clutesi to PAPA since the late 1960s. The marina building that used to stand on the site was demolished in June 2012.

Watson said that the last development plans for the Clutesi land involved the proposed Tsu-ma-as Transformation Centre. The controversial cultural centre proposal was a joint venture between the Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations, the port authority and the city.

Watson said that “several incarnations” of the plans for the transformation centre developed between 2007 and 2009 but nothing was ever finalized.

Council agreed to table the motion to enter a lease with the port authority pending further discussion.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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