A group of residents in the Nanoose Bay area is rallying to oppose a plan to allow further expansion of the Beachcomber Marina.
Ian Barnes, the owner of the marina, extended the breakwater and added 20 more berths in 2017. Barnes now has a pending application to the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resources to amend an existing licence to allow him to extend the breakwater and more docks and boats.
Barnes indicated on his application that the extension is necessary to ensure present and future docks and boats are protected against inclement weather from all directions. He also pointed out the impact to the community, environment and to residents near the marina would be minimal.
Friends of Nanoose Bay, the group against the marina project, have submitted letters to the ministry opposing Barnes’s application.
Beachcomber resident Nick Schulson, who is leading the group, said a major concern is the potential environmental damage the extension of the breakwater and increased docks would cause.
“Both would affect an ecologically fragile reef area teeming with marine life, and put a provincially registered salmon habitat eel grass meadow in the bay at great risk from altered current flow and disruptive marine traffic,” said Schulson.
Barnes presented to the ministry a biological survey of the bay from a consultant he hired; residents feel the survey covered only from the marina to the mouth of the bay.
The area of the proposed expansion, which is under the jurisdiction of the RDN, is zoned for recreation use and will need to be rezoned for commercial use. If approved, Schulson, believes that development plans would block marine access to one of the few beaches in the area.
Barnes doesn’t believe the the proposed breakwater extension would greatly impact environment particularly the eel grass in the area.
“Very few in the community would see it (extension),” said Barnes. “It’s right at the end of the existing breakwater and it is only going to serve to further protect the bay beach use further down the bay and also the eel gras bed. To be quite honest, the breakwater is approximately 700 feet from the eel grass bed and I don’t see how it can in anyway affect negatively the eel grass bed.”
Barnes was hoping to start construction of this project now but has deferred it to next year as he doesn’t expect the ministry to make its decision soon regarding his application.
Schulson also said the facility is private with signs prohibiting public access, excluding community members from even launching a small boat. He said this is against Nanoose Bay’s Official Community Plan that states “residents have placed the highest value on the protection of the natural environment — including watercourses, green spaces, viewscapes, beach accesses, and sensitive ecosystems.”
Barnes said it has always been private marina but he does allow public boats to moor there but only on a limited scale.
“You don’t have to be a member of the strata or a member of the immediate Beachcomber area to moor your boat here,” said Barnes. “It’s public in that respect. I do limit the moorage to annual only and I do limit the usage of the ramp because it used to be a total gong show here. I only sell 20 annual passes and obviously to local boaters.”
The immediate neighbourhood was given notification of his plan. Barnes said that his application requires him to do that and also indicated that he is open to discussing what the plans are with the residents.
Schulson said comments on the application can be made until June 16 to the ministry at https://comments.nrs.gov.bc.ca/ File No. 1412124.