Mayor Rowe waves off concerns and processes around Gibsons marina and The George

Mayor Wayne Rowe has published a rebuttal of the article "Gibsons could lose marina to The George" on his website.

 

In his rebuttal, he says that the statement that 350 boaters could lose their moorage is "simply irresponsible."

In 1983, Her Majesty the Queen, respresented by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, signed a covenant with the Town of Gibsons about the building of the marina. The town had to maintain and keep open the marina for use of all the boating public, without discrimination against any person for any reason, into perpetuity - forever.

The town then entered into an agreement with Gibsons Marina Hotel Inc which would actually build the marina. Gibsons Marina Hotel Inc holds the sublease from the town.

In his rebuttal, the mayor writes: "there are ways to accommodate the hotel proponents' desire for the use of A dock, such as through a licensing agreement or a potential reconfiguration of the lease. As the marina sublease is held by a private company it will be up to those parties to negotiate a suitable agreement."

This would go against the covenant with the federal government, which said that the Marina was for use of all the boating public, forever.

The developer of The George wants the water in front of Winegarden Park for private moorage. About this, the mayor says in his rebuttal: "If the proposed project (The George) were to gain approval in principle, then discussions would take place between the developer and the Town as to the access to that area and appropriate compensation to the town."

Councillor Dan Bouman, who is seeking re-election, says: "Council should have been advised about this and should have discussed these issues in open meetings and with the public before making a decision about approving the ‘form and character’ of the project."

Why would Council approve a project in principle without discussing first, in public, the possible disposal of public land?

The mayor is right in his rebuttal when he says that there have been no plans submitted for another condo development next to The George. However, on February 6, 2014, the town's Director of Planning and the Chief Administrative Officer were cc'd in an email from Shoal Bay Properties to the provincial government which said that "our request is for moorage related to the future development of a multi unit residential condo project on the upland properties owned by Shoal Bay Properties."

"On Monday we had a meeting with the Chief Administrative Officer and Director of  Planning for the Town of Gibsons. They are willing and eager to work with us," said Bob Papau of Shoal Bay Properties in an email to the provincial government in February 2014 about the condo's.

So it can be assumed that town staff was aware of the plans for a condo development next to The George - which would also require moorage.

Art McGinnis, operating manager of Gibsons Marina Hotel Inc was asked for an interview before the article about the marina was published. He chose not to respond. After the article became public, he sent a letter to all berth holders, saying that the marina had had meetings with its neighbours, including The George, in an effort to work together to improve the boating experience for marina users and the general community." And, he said, "the suggestion that the tenure of the berth holders will be affected by the George hotel is simply not true."

It would have been interesting to hear an explanation. Is Gibsons Marina Hotel Inc willing to accommodate the moorage needs of The George?

Will that mean fewer berths for the public? Are there plans for more berths in compensation? Is Gibsons Marina willing or planning to sell the sublease? Is it committed to not selling? These questions have not been aswered.