LETTER: New Beacon Wharf would support economic diversity

I would like to respond to your October 27 article on the views of the City of Sydney councillors regarding the demolition of Lighthouse Quay.

Historically, the federal government has installed these facilities in most coastal communities to support the marine economy that is vital to these communities. A few decades ago, fisheries and oceans (in my opinion) lost interest in supporting public access infrastructure that connects coastal communities to the ocean. They began to abdicate responsibility for docks and piers along British Columbia’s coast.

While some facilities moved to the Small Boat Program, many communities chose to take over the main marina rather than lose this asset (Beacon Street Pier in 2006). As these docks age and require expensive repairs, the community seems to have no choice – repair or demolish. Unfortunately, short-term cost-effective solutions are proposed to address this problem. But I would like to suggest an additional long-term option.

In many European and East Coast communities, senior government worked with the community and built permanent concrete piers. A permanent, low-maintenance public option that can support ocean-related commercial and recreational activities for decades. For some reason, the federal government isn’t sharing this long-term solution with community docks on the West Coast.

Sydney’s waterfront currently has permanent walkways, breakwaters and piers – rock, concrete or block. As council continues to deliberate on the future of the main pier, I think a third option to consider is to extend the existing causeway and add a block and concrete pier, which would complete the sense of timelessness that already exists along the waterfront.

While we have excellent private and small craft port facilities, the public marina is an important statement of economic diversity and public sea access. I suggest that the provincial and federal governments need to be encouraged to work with the ocean community and make sure that in 50 or 100 years, we still have facilities on the ocean that provide economic and recreational opportunities for the public to remember how important our connection to the ocean is.

Bill Owen

north saanich

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