The Port Alberni Port Authority is committed to working with kiteboarders and the city to provide a place for kiteboarders to launch after banning the practice off of Centennial Pier, port CEO Zoran Knezevic said.
According to Knezevic, kite boarding poses a bigger risk than swimming, paddleboarding or kayaking due to the ropes involved in launching.
“Essentially, there’s too many moving parts and with onlookers and people around it creates a serious hazard area for someone to get entangled in those lines or being pulled by the strong wind when the kite or kiteboarder is taking off.”
Another issue is the proximity of Centennial Pier to the busy Fisherman’s Harbour, a site that will get even busier once the fuel dock at the end of the Somass pier is installed.
Knezevic also said the port is trying to attract float plane service providers to the harbour, with Centennial Pier as their base.
“It’s too risky to allow the activity to continue as is for now.”
Resident Malcolm Menninga and kiteboarder Dale Moffatt both spoke to the importance of kiteboarding and waterfront access in Port Alberni during the public input section of the Jan. 26 city council meeting.
“I’m here to express my disappointment in the announcement last week from the Port Authority disallowing kiteboarding from Centennial Pier,” Menninga said, adding that there has not been a single safety incident involving kiteboarding at the Pier.
Menninga argued that with a declining forest industry the city has to improve their liveability and “promote Port Alberni as a lifestyle destination.”
Moffatt told council that he thought that this was a great opportunity for the city to work together with the Port Authority to provide a safe launching point for kiteboarders.
“We’ve already begun establishing a group of people to come up with some plans and some ideas,” Moffatt said.
If a launching point could be agreed upon, Moffatt believes that kiteboarders who currently go to Nitinat Lake, 80 kms south of Port Alberni, would instead come here.
Knezevic said that the port authority has provided a proposed alternate launch point off the floats by the lighthouse in the Harbour Quay that is in their opinion a “much more feasible area for kiteboarders. PAPA will review the proposal with the local kiteboarding community.”
While Canal Beach has been a popular kiteboarding location in the past prior to the pier being dismantled, Knezevic said that it wasn’t the port authority’s place to initiate a conversation regarding that. However, he said that the port authority would be willing to meet and discuss possible kiteboarding infrastructure at Canal Beach.