Author: Ed Johnson, Citizen Journalist
Dale Cotton is an optimistic fellow. He has to be to tackle all levels of government – federal, provincial, and municipal – to advance his vision for an expanded marina at the foot of Verdier Avenue in Brentwood Bay.
“I want to see Portside Marina become a friendly destination for families wishing to experience a public marina and all it has to offer,” he said.
His plans call for a floating arts and crafts store where native art from the local bands will be on display with artists present, a kayaking centre, a viewing platform, a fish and chips stand, boat building classes, and possibly the sale of local fish and prawns in season. The concept would include facilities for up to 15 live-aboards among the 50 slips contemplated.
The marina has an illustrious past, being at one time a fish cannery and smoke house known as Gilbert’s Boathouse in 1927. Harry Gilbert’s native style carvings are still evident and his fishing guide business entertained notable visitors such as Rt. Hon. John Diefenbaker whose picture adorns one wall. Portside Marina
The enlargement of the marina, however, may find its greatest detractors among the local residents of Moodyville, as the historic tightly knit community with its narrow streets and small lots is known. Chief among their concerns is the extra traffic and parking this project would submit to the area if approved. Mr. Cotton acknowledges that this is being studied by Central Saanich engineering staff, and that the ratio of parking required to accommodate the various components of the expansion plan may limit the size and activities planned.
Currently 32 parking spaces are in the concept plan which includes tearing down one of the original beach houses in the area to accommodate the extra space required. Although a six foot high fence will surround most of the lot, a majority of the houses next to the lot are two stories, so not only will there be more noise, but also some views will be impacted.
“We already have to close our windows on summer evenings because of the noise emanating from the Brentwood Bay Inn – a block away,” said resident Alex Gorton. “Now there is the potential for noise much closer.”
The second concern that property owners immediately adjacent to the marina have is the growing number of ‘live-aboard’ boats anchored in the bay that will only be pushed farther north. Live-aboards are where people make a boat their primary residence despite there being no municipal planning or permission for it.
This with the added visibility of a larger marina in front of them is not the view to which they have become accustomed over the years. And, in fact, one owner would have to relinquish his foreshore rights for this project to proceed in any meaningful way.
As it is in the initial planning stages, the project has several months to go before being presented to Central Saanich Council, whose busy planning staff has no shortage of development applications for most parts of the community. In the meantime Mr. Cotton continues to fix up the marina and hopes that the neighbourhood will eventually embrace his efforts.
Picturesque Saunder’s Lane, a municipal park, ambles along the shoreline, adding to the charm of this little area tucked away in a corner of Brentwood Bay.