If numbers are any indication of interest then the Waterfront North Study is proving to be popular with residents in the Alberni Valley.
More than 40 people attended an open house at the Tseshaht administration building on Tuesday night where the preliminary draft of the Waterfront North study was presented.
“This is an opportunity for people to interact with us and ask questions and give input about the study,” city planner Scott Smith said.
The $75,000 study is being carried out in a four-way partnership between the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations, the Port Alberni Port Authority and City of Port Alberni, each of whom has contributed $25,000 to the effort.
The aim of the study is to position the community as an alternative destination to Parksville-Qualicum or Tofino.
The study area includes a portion of Catalyst lands, continuing north along the waterfront through Victoria Quay, North Port Commercial Area, Clutesi Haven Marina and River Road towards and inclusive of the Tseshaht First Nation administration facility and Paper Mill Dam.
Several people have inquired about a proposal that would see the Clutesi Haven Marina boat launch relocated to 25 acres of surplus Catalyst land.
The initiative would allow for the launch to be made larger, Smith said. There would be additional parking available, as well other commercial entities, Smith said.
Catalyst general manger Fred Chinn said that ‘what-if’ chats have been had with the city and port authority about the idea but that those talks have been cursory only.
“It’s been an abstract throwing of ideas around,” he said.
A pre-condition to any talks would be that the land can be used for commercial or industrial purposes but not residential, Chinn said.
The land in question lays along Stamp Avenue and lower Roger Street. The land has technically been considered surplus since 2008. “If there was a serious offer or partnership then the company would listen and consider it,” Chinn said.
The land would require some clean up, he said.
If the land is sold then there would have to be an environmental assessment, the cost of which Catalyst would pay. Subsequent reclamation to the property would have to be negotiated between the company and the buyer at the time of sale, he said.
The land contains an field, some equipment sheds and is used for storage and repairs. There also used to be large woodchip piles on the field.
The proposed boat launch would be located at the area around the helicopter pad at the corner of Victoria Quay and Roger Street, Chinn said.
Growing the Waterfront North Study beyond the ideas stage will require serious discussion not to mention a serious investor. “Building a new larger boat launch is no small undertaking,” Chinn said.
The open house is the last one to be held, Smith said. Two others were held last year at the Hupacasath House of Gathering and the other at the AV Multiplex.
Officials will now pour through the public input to record it. “Something could come out of this that we never thought of,” he said.
The public can continue to view the study and make comment on it at the city’s website.