Gibsons Harbour will cement its reputation as the fisherman’s friend with a $1.3-million upgrade that is expected to be in place in less than four months, the Gibsons Landing Harbour Authority (GLHA) announced this week.
A new concrete float and drive-on ramp — the first phase of a major harbour revitalization project — will improve unloading and maintenance capabilities for the fishing fleet and make the harbour more accessible for barge companies, large yachts and the marine services sector.
Mayor Wayne Rowe said he was “thrilled” that GLHA had secured funding for the project.
“As Gibsons is one of the few remaining working harbours, this expansion will support the fishing industry and increase the ability of the harbour for a variety of uses,” Rowe said.
The project, Rowe added, “would significantly enhance the economic revitalization of Gibsons Landing.”
The project will include construction of a drive-on, side-by-side dual concrete float and a commercial-grade drive-on ramp. Future phases will see added floats, floating breakwaters and “reconfiguration of the total harbour space for maximum efficiency,” GLHA said in a press release.
When all phases are completed, the total project will cost about $12 million, said GLHA president Terry Rhodes.
Rhodes said the harbour project fell through in 2008 when one of the funding agencies pulled out, so the board decided about a year ago to approach it in phases.
Funding partners for the first phase include: the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) small craft harbours division, which is providing the float plus engineering and design expertise, Island Coastal Economic Trust, which is contributing up to $330,000 toward the ramp and anchoring system, Sunshine Coast Community Futures (part of the Community Economic Adjustment Initiative, funded by Western Economic Development Canada), which is donating up to $250,000 toward components and engineering services, and the GLHA, which is committing $115,000 from its capital development fund.
Appearing before Gibsons council’s committee of the whole Dec. 11, GLHA team leader Joe Wright said the board’s target date for completing the first phase is March 31, 2013.
“It’s very aggressive and very tight … [but] we believe it’s doable,” Wright said.
He said the harbour authority board was reinvigorated last year after discussing the dock upgrade project with the newly elected council. It formed a project team, drafted a strategic plan and started seeking funding partners.
GLHA had to update its 2008 environmental impact study and commission a wave action study “to be sure that the float is not going to be buffeted catastrophically,” Wright said. The only remaining approval issue, he said, is waiting on a final decision by GLHA on how the float will be anchored.
Tenders are expected to go out in January, he said.
“We are very fortunate to have such a qualified board and we really appreciate what you’re doing,” Rowe said. “We look forward to the photo-op.”
Currently commercial fishing boats undergoing maintenance are tied up at the farthest finger of the wharf, Rhodes said.
“We are still a wood facility,” he said. “The addition means contractors will be able to drive their vehicles right on the concrete float, which will be a big savings for them and for the commercial fishery.”
The new float will also create efficiencies for gear changes and unloading catches, and will provide off-season moorage for larger yachts, Rhodes said. Barge companies that serve Gambier, Keats and Paisley islands will be able to use the harbour more because the float is not “tide-limited,” he added.
Rhodes said one marine service business anticipates hiring four more people after the new facility is in place, and GLHA expects revenues from the harbour to increase every year after the improvements.
Formed in 1998, GLHA is a non-profit corporation that manages and administers water lot DL5963 under a series of rolling five-year lease agreements with DFO.
The board of directors includes commercial fishers and business owners.