Ian Barnes, who applied for the infrastructure upgrades at Beachcomber Marina, said the work should be finished in the coming weeks. (Lauren Collins photo)

Ian Barnes, who applied for the infrastructure upgrades at Beachcomber Marina, said the work should be finished in the coming weeks. (Lauren Collins photo)

First phase of Nanoose Bay’s Beachcomber Marina almost done

Breakwater extended, dock replaced

It’s been a few years in the making, but the first phase of Beachcomber Marina in Nanoose Bay is nearly complete.

Ian Barnes, owner-operator of the marina, said he started submitting plans to the Regional District of Nanaimo four years ago, but the physical work only started this June. Barnes said the work should be completed within two weeks, but it’s a little past the original deadline.

“It took about twice the time it should have,” Barnes said. “It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but it should outlast me.”

Nearly three years ago, the RDN hosted a public information meeting on the marina plans, which drew people both for and against the changes. Barnes said a lot of the “kerfuffle was about Phase 2,” which had opposition from the Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation.

“I just said, ‘OK, let’s do phase one. Let’s just do what we can do in an area everyone agrees (upon),” he said.

Phase 1 included upgrading the dock, fitting in new pilings (which go into the ground and hold the dock steady) and extending the existing breakwater. Phase 1, Barnes said, completes about 80 per cent of the two phases.

“If this marina ever moves, it’s going to be at the stage where Alberta becomes seafront property,” Barnes said with a laugh.

Barnes said replacing the pilings was the main part of the upgrades.

“Some of them were pretty rotten; the wooden ones were pretty rotten and the steel ones, no one could tell me how long they’d been in,” Barnes said. “There were a lot of unknowns here because this (the marina) has been here in various forms since the ’50s … It’s now a very solid marina and very protected. It’s probably the most-protected marina along this stretch of coastline.”

In his research for upgrading the marina, Barnes said he found out Beachcomber Marina was originally a federal supply station that supplied lighthouses at nearby islands. Barnes also said the federal government built the original short breakwater, “God knows how long ago.”

Afterward, Barnes said, Beachcomber became a small marina in the 1960s and 70s before expanding out.

For the infrastructure upgrades, Barnes said, he had to have approval from the RDN, the provincial government and the federal government.

He said the improvements, which include the expanded breakwater, cost in the region of $2 million which is all in business loans.

Barnes said he did a lot of the design work for the upgrades, adding he had it drawn up by surveyors.

“It was interesting. Kept the old grey matter going,” he said. “I did most of the design from knowledge and experience — not that I’m a marine engineer – but I’ve seen a lot of marinas.”