Hello, Thank you for subscribing to my Director’s Report. This time, I’m discussing “what’s up with wharves?!“.

In our islands-rich Electoral Area our wharves provide a vital transportation link for residents of the Outer Discovery Islands as well as safe haven for mariners travelling the coast.

In my last Director’s Report I mentioned the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) is revisiting the Wharves Service Initiative this spring. This report is to share a little more about the history and the future of this Initiative and why the SRD is looking again at creating a Wharves Service for Area C. Here’s a short tale on how we’ve got to where we are today.

In 2015 three wharves in Area C were divested by Transport Canada to the SRD: Surge Narrows on Read Island, Owen Bay on Sonora Island, and Port Neville in Johnstone Strait, northern Area C.

Along with the divestiture came a chunk of federal funding ($2,874,500) for necessary upgrades to the wharves. However, contingent on spending these funds is the SRD creating a Wharves Service. Seven years later, a Wharves Service has not yet been created. The summer of 2022 saw an attempt at elector assent through an Alternative Approval Process: it was unsuccessful.

Safety feature at the Hoskyn Channel wharf

I appreciate this safety feature at the Hoskyn Channel wharf.

The three divested wharves need important improvements. Some of the federal funds have paid for planning and engineering of the necessary upgrades. However, the construction work cannot begin till a Wharves Service is in place. If Area C residents do not approve a Service, the divestment funds must be returned to Transport Canada — which have stated they make no promise to continue operating the public ports.

What is a Wharves Service? A Service is a specific line item included in the budget. In this case a small amount (maximum $0.0353/$1000, if all six wharves are included in the Service) would be requisitioned annually from Area C ratepayers and collected into an ‘savings account’ for future wharf inspections and maintenance. (Service funds are specific, they can be used for one purpose only).

Oh: there are more wharves! In addition to the three divested wharves, the SRD manages three additional wharves: Granite Bay & Hoskyn Channel on Quadra Island and Evans Bay on Read Island. These three SRD wharves till now have been maintained through the Parks Service budget. The current idea is to move these three into the Wharves Service with the others, having them all managed and maintained together.

Overlooking Surge Narrows wharf

Overlooking the Surge Narrows wharf.

Looking ahead
And so, here we are, embarking on a second try at creating a Wharves Service for Area C. Having your concerns heard and questions answered will support this important decision in receiving the evaluation it deserves.

I welcome your questions or concerns by email, or if you’re so inclined, I welcome you to an informative meeting with the SRD’s Chief Administrative Officer Dave Leitch Tuesday February 14, 11am at the Quadra Community Centre. This meeting is to answer your wharf-related questions and is a chance to share your concerns and considerations in advance of the Wharves Service Bylaw coming before the Board.

Once the Board approves the Bylaw it is sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs for approval, which can take several months. After that, it’s back to the community via the Alternative Approval Process*. This is where residents can assert their disapproval in writing… or do nothing and the Wharves Service will become a reality and the wharf works will begin.

*Some folks have questioned the Alternative Approval Process. It is one of two options available to us; the other is a referendum which would cost our Area $15-18,000.

If you’d like to connect with me about wharves or anything else, you’re welcome to email RMawhinney@srd.ca, or call/text 250.203.2468.

Until next time,

Robyn Mawhinney