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Plenty of Harbour Spirit

The latest project in Madeira Park's beautification is almost complete, thanks to the help of volunteers and donors from the entire Pender Harbour community.

The latest project in Madeira Park's beautification is almost complete, thanks to the help of volunteers and donors from the entire Pender Harbour community.

The Harbour Spirit fishing boat is fixed up, freshly painted and surrounded by landscaping at the highway entrance to Madeira Park.

The beautification has been ongoing since 1999 with various projects, landing Pender Harbour a provincial Communities in Bloom award last year for its population category. The Harbour Spirit project has been a group effort from the whole community but some key players stood out in getting it going.

Pender Harbour's living heritage society, led by Richard Hatchke and Jackie Ordronneau, refurbished the boat. The Harbour Spirit is a wooden double-ender boat, commonly used for commercial fishing on the Coast from the 1930s to 1950s, according to Hatchke. The boat represents the history of the harbour and its early settlers, who were fishermen and loggers, Hatchke said. The community got the boat from Vancouver Island. Its exact history is hard to trace, he added. The wood was rotten and needed repainting, so the Society and about a dozen locals formed a work party to fix it.

Cherryl Hoffman is the chair of the entrance sign committee under the Chamber of Commerce."One of the things we decided we were missing was something that would bring people into the Harbour from the highway," Hoffman said.

The committee had a suggestion box in 2003 asking the community what it thought would represent Pender Harbour. The vintage fish boat won. They eventually found the Harbour Spirit, formerly called Co-mate, and bought it for $2,500 because of its similarity to boats that were once built in the harbour, she said. The growth and development committee helped raise money for the boat. "Once we got the fish boat, lots of people in the community came forward with donations," Hoffman said.

The committee then put out a notice for name ideas. They received 120 suggestions, including Love Me Pender. The community voted for Harbour Spirit.

Hoffman said John Rees, now the Sunshine Coast Regional District director for Pender Harbour, was "instrumental" from the beginning. In 2002, Rees won a Queen's Jubilee Award for community volunteerism. At the end of the summer of 2004, Don Fraser became very involved in the highway entrance project with landscaping plans, Hoffman said.

"Our community owes a tremendous debt to John and Marlene Rees and Don Fraser because they are the worker bees who have planned and performed all the beautification projects," Hoffman said.

The landscaping should be complete by the fall, and the committee still needs to decide on a sign welcoming people to Pender Harbour.

Hoffman said the whole community has participated in the initiative, by donating either time or money. She has noticed more boat traffic, that the Harbour lost over the years after fishing declined, returning to the Harbour year after year because of the attraction of the beautification projects.

Rees said when the fishing industry fell apart in the Harbour, which the community had been relying on, the obvious next step was to go to ecotourism. So the projects began, and community involvement escalated from there.

"The momentum picked up as people saw someone was trying to improve the community," Rees said.

Larry Curtiss, chair of the Pender Harbour growth and development committee said labour, materials and money have come from many groups and individuals. He adds there are still lots of bills to pay and more ideas for future projects. Linda Curtiss, chair of the Pender Harbour community improvement foundation, collects donations and issues tax receipts. Anyone wanting to donate money can contact her at 604-883-2819.