A move by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) to acquire ownership of New Brighton dock has run into a snag — Transport Canada is already considering another application.
“They’re strictly dealing with Squamish Nation right now,” Brian Sagman, the SCRD’s transportation and facilities manager, told the corporate and administrative services committee on Oct. 25.
Sagman said the federal department gives priority to requests from federal agencies and First Nations first, provincial agencies second and local governments third.
Under the policy, he said, Squamish First Nation would get “first kick” at the can.
Directors passed a recommendation to have SCRD chair Garry Nohr try to set up a meeting between SCRD officials and their counterparts from Squamish First Nation, to discuss the Band’s interest in the facility.
“I’m very concerned about the possibility of losing public access because this is a very busy dock,” said West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull, who made the motion.
The New Brighton public dock serves as Gambier Island’s passenger ferry terminal from Langdale.
CAO John France said that after learning about Squamish First Nation’s interest in the dock, he sent a letter to Transport Canada asking if a joint application was possible.
“One thing I said in the e-mail is that this dock is vitally important to the people of the island [and losing it could] really disrupt residents on the island,” France said.
The committee agreed to register the regional district’s intent to explore acquisition of the dock — which is non-binding — and authorize officials to sign a disclosure agreement with Transport Canada.
Ottawa’s aim is to divest the dock to a “single entity,” but that entity could be a partnership arrangement between the Squamish First Nation and SCRD, say the minutes from an Aug. 30 teleconference between SCRD and Transport Canada staff.
“Talks with Squamish are early on, and Squamish Nation will be doing their own due diligence to determine if they want to proceed,” the minutes say. “Squamish Nation’s letter [of intent] has indicated they are willing to consider working with other parties.”
Squamish First Nation officials did not return calls by press time Thursday.
Sagman said Transport Canada will provide information on historic maintenance costs, repairs and inspections after the SCRD submits its documents.
More than a decade ago, the federal government divested nine public docks to the SCRD, including four on Gambier Island. New Brighton was one of 15 docking facilities included in a second round of divestitures announced earlier this year.