The defunct multi-million dollar cruise ship terminal at Campbell River will undergo an assessment to evaluate its condition and possible alternate uses.
Wei Wai Kum First Nation and the City of Campbell River issued a tender seeking consultants to evaluate the structural conditions of the facility, deputy city manager Ron Neufeld confirmed.
Neufeld also said that proposals have been coming in and that they anticipate a consultant to begin work this summer.
The terminal is an asset of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation and Chief Chris Roberts told the Mirror that the evaluation is a “critical step” to moving forward.
“There’s expensive infrastructure in the water and we want to see how that can be utilized. If we cannot find a way, then there’s no sense in paying all that water lot lease and we hopefully can break even and decommission all the metal that is sitting in the ocean,” said Roberts.
He also said that all ideas of alternate uses for the terminal are at a preliminary stage of discussion.
However the band is contemplating possible tourist draws that can be built upon from a First Nation’s tourism perspective, said Roberts.
The cruise ship terminal has been a black eye for the Nation, he added.
“A lot of factors were out of our control and things didn’t go as planned,” said Roberts about the failure of the facility since it opened in 2007.
The terminal has been a white elephant for the Wei Wai Kum band ever since.
With high hopes of attracting more than $11 million worth of business from international cruise liners, which were “projected” to come in during summer, the taxpayer-funded terminal was built at a cost of $16 million. This included $9.45 million from the federal government, $4 million from the province, $2.3 million from the City of Campbell River and $750,000 from the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.
However, owing to the economic recession that hit North America in 2008, cruise ship companies opted for tried and tested routes and older terminals like Vancouver and Victoria rather than explore newer itineraries like Campbell River.
After years of no ships, the band realized the facility was bleeding money, an estimated $20,000 annually for the yearly water lot lease for the 300-metre-long terminal.
In addition to the lease, there were also taxes that needed to be paid, Roberts said.
While the city was supportive and helped ease the burden by subsidizing the annual tax on the terminal for a while, Roberts said that,“they’re also at a point where they can’t do that anymore since there is no economic benefit for the municipality.”