The City is one step closer to building a new wharf for the yachts that often tour the Alaskan theatre every summer, but almost never stop in Prince Rupert because there aren’t many places for them to dock.
At their meeting on Monday, City Council decided to support a grant application being made by the Port Edward and Prince Rupert Development Corporation to the West Coast Community Adjustment Program (WCCAP); a federal funding program for improving the quality of life in west coast communities.
The development corporation is hoping that the WCCAP will give them $250,000 to put towards building a 700-foot-long floating wharf on the Cow Bay waterfront. The new dock is part of the port authority’s waterfront improvement project for Cow Bay
About 1,200 itinerant yachts sail past Prince Rupert every year without ever stopping here. Its believed the reason for this is that the city only has 10 slips that yachts can dock at. If the new wharf is built it will add an additional 32. The hope is that the additional space will attract the yachts – and their passengers’ money – to town.
“We understood that there is a number of itinerant yachts that cruise past Prince Rupert every year due to a lack of moorage…This is a significant lost opportunity for our community and for our boutique retailers, restaurants and grocery stores,” says Derek Baker from the development corporation.
By charging $50 to $60 for a place to park luxury boats, the dock is expected to bring in almost $300,000 and introduce an additional $1.2-million to $2.5-million in tourist spending at the city’s restaurants and stores.
But the dock is expected to cost $1.7-million to actually build and the grant application to the WCCAP is just one of many sources of funding being explored. Money is also being sought after from the Provincial Gaming funds, Western Economic Diversification, Coast Sustainability Trust and the City itself.
The City’s contribution to the project is expected to be about $311,000 provided that the other sources of funding work out, and it will be contributing $250,000 from its available Gas Tax revenue which is set aside for municipalities to draw from to fund projects like this.
“If we in fact get $300,000 from the wharf, it will take us just three years to get our money back, which is pretty darn good,” says councilor Joy Thorkelson.
One issue that hasn’t been worked out yet though is who gets the dock’s revenue and how much. The Prince Rupert Port Authority is expected to contribute $75,000, which Baker expects will mean that some kind of partnership and profit-sharing agreement will have to be drawn up between them and the City.
There’s also a chance that the local yacht club will be charged with managing the dock, in which case another profit sharing agreement will likely be necessary.
City Manager Gord Howie also suggested that the City ask other organizations and people in the community if they would want to contribute money for the wharf, which would reduce the City’s required share of the contributions.