The New Brighton public dock on Gambier Island is now the property of Squamish First Nation.
Transport Canada transferred the public port facility to a numbered company owned by Squamish Nation on Nov. 12, a spokeswoman for the federal department said Wednesday.
“The transfer agreement with the new port operator included a contribution amount of $790,000 to be used exclusively for the operation and maintenance of the facility as a public port facility,” communications officer Sau Sau Liu said in an email.
New Brighton, which serves as Gambier’s passenger ferry connection from Langdale, was one of 15 federal docks included in a round of divestitures announced by Ottawa in early 2012.
Kate-Louise Stamford, Island Trust’s local trustee for Gambier Island, said residents became aware of the transfer after signage was recently posted on the dock.
Although there has been no official announcement, Stamford said she discussed the transfer with Squamish Nation officials at the Howe Sound Community Forum in Britannia Beach on Tuesday, and “they were enthusiastic” about their new acquisition.
“We’re looking forward to building that relationship and see where we can take the dock and the community,” she said.
The New Brighton dock is the primary access for the island’s southwest peninsula, providing free moorage for an estimated 15 to 20 boats.
“There’s two other docks — Gambier Harbour and West Bay dock — but they don’t have the capacity for moorage,” Stamford said. “New Brighton is the most protected by far. Moorage has been full for a long time.”
Some island property owners, she added, have complained that the limited moorage has prevented people from attending summer events, and they would like to see the capacity expanded.
“I can’t speak for all users, but the majority would like to see better management, maybe onsite management,” she said. “Generally that seems to be a consensus — that in order to make this work we need to look at a bigger and more organized structure.”
Transport Canada said no land was involved in the transfer, as the dock sits on a provincial water lot.