The Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre’s pier is undergoing reconstruction. (submitted)

Phase one of Maritime Centre pier reconstruction complete

To complete the full scope of the survey’s recommendations the cost was estimated at $500,000.

The Cowichan Wooden Boat Society is pleased to announce that phase one of its pier reconstruction project is complete, though there’s lots of work left to be done.

On June 18-22, Pacific Industrial & Marine was onsite working under the two-storey pavilion at the end of the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre pier, adding steel beams and repairing parts of the pier’s substructure.

“These repairs are what the centre needed to keep its doors open to the public during this year’s busy summer season,” said Lew Penney, pier reconstruction project committee chair.

In 2014 the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society commissioned an engineer’s survey of the condition of its pier. At that time, the report found the pier to be in “poor but serviceable condition” due to the decaying creosote-treated pilings that support the structure. The survey recommended replacing the decaying pilings within two to five years. To complete the full scope of the survey’s recommendations the cost was estimated at $500,000.

Since receiving the survey’s findings, the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society has been working hard to raise the funds needed to cover the pier’s reconstruction. Thanks to fundraising events, individual donations, and a whopping $50,000 contribution secured through the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Regional Grant-in-Aid program, the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society has been able to proceed with addressing the most critically deteriorated section of its pier.

“Choosing Pacific Industrial & Marine to do the work was a major reason why the job got done. Pacific Industrial & Marine gave us a heck of a deal on the labour and materials,” said Society President Ion Barnes. That deal was thanks to time and determination put in by Pacific Industrial & Marine, who sourced repurposed materials for the project. For example, the steel beams were repurposed from the Vancouver SkyTrain.

The Cowichan Wooden Boat Society still has a lot of work to do to raise the funds necessary to complete its pier reconstruction project. For now, they are celebrating the work they have been able to accomplish and hoping it will provide the momentum needed to complete the project in the next two years. For more information on the project, head down to the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre and look at the signage and the pier itself. To donate to the project, go to classicboats.org.

About the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre’s pier reconstruction project

The Cowichan Maritime Centre’s pier was built in 1925 and was used by Standard Oil as a fuel loading dock. That was a different era in Cowichan Bay’s history when several fuel loading docks operated in the bay. The Cowichan Wooden Boat Society took over the property lease of the site of the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre in 1988 and turned a derelict pier into a living museum and popular tourist attraction. Three pods and a pavilion were built along the 89 metre pier and were filled with historical artifacts, wooden boats, interpretive displays, a collection of outboard engines, and more.

The pier reconstruction project will ensure the economic viability and survival of the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre, an important hub for the community of Cowichan Bay and the region and a popular tourist attraction. It will conserve a regionally recognized heritage site, ensuring an important part of Cowichan Bay’s history is not forgotten. Reconstructing the pier will be a source of pride for Cowichan Bay and continue the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre’s legacy of care and repair to the site it took over in 1988. The reconstruction will ensure the overall appearance of the iconic pier does not change, will protect the pedestrian walkway, and preserve the important landmark visible from land and sea.

The Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre is a heritage interpretive centre. In addition to the pier, it includes a large timber framed building which houses a small boat display, a collection of model ships, a marine library of over 2,000 books, and a mezzanine meeting space with kitchen. This building is joined to a fully equipped woodworking shop, a small engine repair area, and a large workspace for individual boat building projects. At the rear of the workshop, next to the pier approach, is a fully operational heritage marine ways used for hauling boats throughout the year for cleaning, repairs and bottom painting.

The Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre is operated by the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society (CWBS). The Cowichan Wooden Boat Society owns the buildings and pier that represent the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre and leases the land from the Province of British Columbia.

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