Cow Bay Marina manager Marty Bowles basks in the sunlight the city received last Thursday. Bowles oversees the brand new Cow Bay Marina and the much-needed public breakwater that was completed earlier this year.

Cow Bay Marina manager Marty Bowles basks in the sunlight the city received last Thursday. Bowles oversees the brand new Cow Bay Marina and the much-needed public breakwater that was completed earlier this year.

Missing no more: Prince Rupert waterfront

One of the most sought-after waterfront additions has been completed in Rupert when the public breakwater officially opens Saturday

It may as well have been featured on the side of milk cartons all over northern B.C.

For the amount of time that the waterfront has been missing from the lives of Prince Rupert residents and the city’s visitors, it’s a wonder no official ‘Missing’ reports have been spotted in the region.

But that has all changed with one of the most sought-after additions to the Prince Rupert harbour – the public breakwater, one prominent part of the new Cow Bay Marina.

Constructed by the City of Prince Rupert, with funding help from Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest and the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Office and built by Broadwater Industries, the new Cow Bay Marina offers moorages for transient summer vessels passing by Prince Rupert affording the city more revenue, free Wi-Fi on the public breakwater, nighttime LED lighting and a panoramic view of the Prince Rupert harbour.

“We’re getting our waterfront back,” new Cow Bay Marina manager Marty Bowles said last week, while walking along the new docks. “People are excited and they should be.”

Already, wedding photos have been snapped on the new breakwater, dozens of people per hour have ventured out onto the wooden planks, 14-pound fish have been reeled in and plans are in motion to provide picnic tables and gathering spaces, said Bowles. The manager took in the ‘Placemaking’ workshop led by Portland urban designer Mark Lakeman encouraging public spaces to be used as social and creative outlets.

“Over the last five years our residents have incrementally experienced being cut off from Prince Rupert’s waterfront. The new Cow Bay Marina and 12-foot wide and 600-foot long public wharf is the City’s response to provide new waterfront access for residents to enjoy Prince Rupert’s beautiful harbour. We want to sincerely thank all our partners for making this a reality. Projects like this are just the beginning of a larger plan to repatriate our waterfront for public use so we can provide a quality of life that all Prince Rupert residents deserve,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain.

The seedlings of the idea for the marina and waterfront access began in 2012 and the project proceeded with investment from Western Economic Diversification Fund, the City of Prince Rupert, Gitxaala First Nation, the Port of Prince Rupert, Northern Development Initiative Trust, Fisheries Legacy Trust, Coast Sustainability Trust, the Prince Rupert Port Edward Economic Development Corporation and Communica Public Affairs.

In the private moorage docks, potable water faucets, garbage cans and safety gear is located on various positions of the wooden planks and in the near future, a washing facility is to be installed on land next to the entrance to the docks.

Approximately 51 moorages are available at any point in the year (depending on vessel length) for itinerant vessels and some slips are available for daily, monthly, seasonal and yearly docking.

Bowles estimates well over 1,000 boats pass by the Prince Rupert harbour, going north or south, without stopping and the new marina will give sailors the opportunity to stop, eat at area restaurants, stock up on supplies and shop around at Rupert businesses, providing a much-needed boost to local businesses.

“This is a fantastic project that will drive increased marine traffic to Prince Rupert and the North Coast, diversifying the economy and supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Joel McKay, communications director for Northern Development Initiative Trust.

Community Futures board chair Wendy Prystay added “Community Futures … is delighted to see the fruition of this long sought-after community recreation and business opportunity. It … will hopefully spark the imaginations of local entrepreneurs”.

Executives from the Port of Prince Rupert, which owns the some of the land that the marina is attached to, are equally thrilled.

“Community waterfront access is among the most important of our planning and investment activities, and the Cow Bay breakwater represents our continued commitment to creating spaces for residents to experience Prince Rupert’s harbour,” said Don Krusel, CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert.

A grand opening of the Cow Bay Marina and public wharf is set for this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the breakwater behind Atlin Terminal. Attendees can expect to see live music, free hot dogs and more.