Opponents to a proposed 30-year lease of the Nanaimo Boat Basin to Pacific Northwest Marine Group are taking their protest to the water.
The Nanaimo Port Authority reached a deal with the Sidney-based company which proposes $9 million in upgrades to the 72-year-old marina.
But marina users are concerned about privatization and a lack of public access to moorage.
“The waterfront belongs to everyone, you just can’t gate it,” said Brunie Brunie, who is organizing a blockade of the Boat Basin Sept. 1. “We’ll be out there at the crack of dawn in out boats, anchored fore and aft and maybe put a line across.”
The Protection Island ferry, fishing boats and small dinghies will be allowed to pass through the blockade, but the marina is off limits to larger, private vessels.
Brunie plans to inform boats owners in the marina Aug. 31 of the pending blockade and allowing them to leave.
“We might inconvenience some people for a short time, but selling our harbour is a bigger inconvenience,” said Brunie, who is also hoping for an Occupy-type protest on shore as well.
She is also prepared for the port authority to take action against the blockade.
“I went to jail to help save the Parksville estuary,” she said. “There are just some things you just have to do.”
Ian Marr, port authority vice-president, said they want to hear what everyone has to say on the issue, but if people feel a blockade is necessary, they will have to deal with it accordingly.
“As long as they’re within the realms of the law, there’s not much we want to do to curtail that,” he said. “But if they step outside the law and make things unsafe, then we’ll do whatever we have to do to make sure it’s safe for everybody using the passage.”
Brunie said blockade organizers have nothing against people with yachts, but want to draw wider attention to the port authority’s deal with PNMG.
“The port authority has had this in play for a longtime,” she said. “Privatizing the marina will hurt this town.”
For more information on the blockade, please call Brunie at 250-618-3859.