Local artist sees potential in old boat cradle

Earlier this summer, councillors in Gibsons said they’d like to explore having the abandoned boat cradle at the old Coles Marine site, near Armours Beach, removed.

The boat cradle and parts of the concrete slipway are all that remains after Coles Marine was destroyed by fire in 2010.

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Now, a Roberts Creek artist has approached council with the idea of using it to create a public art piece.

Robert Studer of This Is It Design told council’s committee of the whole on Sept. 3 that he thinks, left where it is, the boat cradle could be transformed into something the public would be proud of and a draw for tourists.

“The way that I view that site is quite different from many people,” said Studer, whose own studio is built mainly from salvaged materials from industrial sites. “Over the last 12 or 15 years part of my working practice is to identify things that are of no value in the majority of people’s of minds, but for me to reinstate some value into it. That site there definitely has that potential.”

Studer said that since the 2010 fire, the boat cradle has become a focus for questions from people who don’t know the history or have a sense of what the structure was.

“When I see that site, what I see is some history of Gibsons that would be really unfortunate for it to be dismantled and I see it as a very ripe opportunity to create a public work of art along that seawall that becomes a destination along that walk,” Studer told councillors.

Studer said he doesn’t have a specific design proposal, but wanted to draw council’s attention to the potential of “doing something creative with what already exists there.”

Mayor Bill Beamish reminded Studer that the Town doesn’t own the cradle, or the property on the shore side, but agreed that it has some historical significance and said there’s even been talk of moving it to a new location and using it to display the Persephone.

He also said Studer’s suggestion should go before the public art committee that council is looking to re-establish as part of its strategic plan.

When council last discussed the boat cradle in July, during consideration of the foreshore improvement project slated for that section of waterfront, they asked Town staff to try to contact the property’s current owners and approach the province about whether the boat cradle could be ordered removed under the conditions of the foreshore lease. 

There was no update available at the Sept. 3 meeting on what staff has learned through those inquiries.

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