The Port Edward Harbour Authority is working to alleviate concerns around the lack of mooring space for recreational vessels in Prince Rupert, but an answer may not be easy to come by.
Dwayne Nielsen and Kerry Wick of the Port Edward Harbour Authority told city council that docks at Rushbrooke, Fairview and the yacht club are full to capacity, but the group is doing everything it can to accommodate boats making their way along the North Coast.
“We are short in this town of space for recreational vessels and we always have been. We have tried to help as best we can … with transient vessels, with the yacht club being out of space, we do what we can with Rushbrooke, Fairview and Cow Bay to draw those people in so they don’t have to go across the harbour and anchor up. A lot of smaller vessels, 50 feet and under, will go to Rushbrooke even if they have to raft up with commercial vessels if the owners are okay with that. The larger vessels go to Fairview,” said Nielsen, with Wick noting talks are underway to change that.
“At this point in Prince Rupert we don’t have any ability to expand outside of our water lot. That is not to say that won’t happen in the future. Right now we are lobbying with Small Craft Harbours to show them that we are the northern hub here … most of our fishermen come up here and realize we are at capacity and have to raft. We are talking about it and we are hopeful, but there is nothing set in stone,” she said.
Space aside, Coun. Joy Thorkelson took issue with the discrepancy between what is available to those docking in Prince Rupert and those docking in Port Edward.
“Port Edward has exceedingly nice floats for a much smaller group of fishermen that tie up there, although there are still a number of vessels that tie up there. They have floats you can drive on to and I wonder why there has been no discussion with the city to see what we can do to provide that same service,” she questioned.
“If fishermen want to bring their groceries and provisions to their boat, they have to roll them down at Rushbrooke and at Fairview and they are continually wondering why they have to pack heavy equipment down a ramp in Prince Rupert and if there is a desire from the harbour authority to move boats to Port Edward.”
Wick said the reason for the superior docks in Port Edward has to do with one dock in the community needing replacement, but also the level of use.
“Port Edward, as much as it looks like there is not a lot of fishermen out there, that is where the gillnet fleet goes every year. That is where our lockers are, that is where the seiner nets are stored, all the equipment is out there so that is our main spot for our fishermen, not only in Rupert but in the whole north,” she said.
“Rupert, having Rushbrooke and Fairview, we would love to have a drive down ramp here. I”m not going to say it won’t happen but I also can’t say it is going to happen.”