Plans to expand Beachcomber Marina are in a holding pattern — but a meeting between the owner and chief is slated for next week.
“Basically everything is on hold until we have had discussions with (Snaw-naw-as First Nation) chief (David) Bob,” Beachcomber Marina owner Ian Barnes told The NEWS Friday.
While Barnes remained tight-lipped about the context of the meeting, he offered “it’s got to be an open discussion to find out what their (Snaw-naw-as First Nation) needs and requirements are.”
Bob did not return phone calls from The NEWS by press time.
Barnes is hoping to add 26 berths to the existing 100 moorage slips at Beachcomber Marina on Northwest Bay near Parksville.
The proposal would see one portion of the marina ‘downzoned’ from marina designation to standard designation (Water 2 to
Water 1), while another area would be ‘upzoned’ from standard designation to marina designation (Water 1 to Water 2).
Barnes has received approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada to make the changes, however, he still needs a permit from the regional district to proceed.
However, in October Snaw-naw-as First Nation sent a letter to the RDN saying they “will oppose this legally, politically and take the necessary action to stop the expansion of this development in this area . . .”
“This entire area is a sacred site to the Snaw-naw-as First Nation and extends beyond the foreshore, out into the waters where you are proposing your rezoning… The reason this entire area is a sacred site to us is that over the centuries the ocean levels have risen and fallen and there are significant middens in that area.”
Meanwhile, the project is garnering support from those who see it as a solution to the moorage shortage in the area, but it’s also raising concerns about blocking neighbouring views, pollution, traffic and water issues.
A meeting was hosted by the RDN in late October where residents voiced their concerns and/or support. Barnes is expected to respond to the concerns through the regional district.
RDN senior planner Greg Keller confirmed last week the regional district has had “preliminary” talks with Barnes about the expansion but have yet to receive any “formal” response.
“We’re still working with the applicant,” said Keller. “We want to make sure that the applicant has the opportunity to address the concerns raised before we bring the application forward.”
Keller said the RDN may host another public information meeting about the expansion in the future. The last meeting attracted more than 200 residents.