The last phase of the patio-portal project at the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre is expected to begin soon.
The project, which is led by the Cowichan Bay Wooden Boat Society, is receiving almost $80,000 from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program to improve public access to the community’s waterfront, and provide more amenities for the community and visitors.
Sharon McLeod, manager of the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre, which is operated by the society, said the funding will be used to build a staircase from the 900-square-foot patio to the inter-tidal zone on the beach, and to provide picnic tables for the patio, as well as interpretative signage, a nautical shade shelter, cedar planter boxes and a children’s play boat.
“It’s the last funding we require for the patio project,” she said.
“We hope to finish the project within the year.”
The portal project began in 2019 by the society, with support from the Island Coastal Economic Trust and other funders.
It is a direct outcome of the Cowichan Bay Village Vitalization Strategy, which noted that the waterfront could become a more valuable tourism asset with better infrastructure.
The portal is intended to create a connection between the pier, the Maritime Centre and nearby businesses, establishing a new waterfront gathering place.
Once complete, the structure is proposed to provide an inviting area for residents and visitors alike, with large sail-mast shades, a wooden boat play set for children, and interpretive panels to learn about Cowichan Bay’s maritime history.
The portal will also provide a venue for new events such as live entertainment, outdoor art and other special events.
As for the society’s pier reconstruction project, which had its first phase completed in 2018, McLeod said the society is looking for more funding to complete it.
In 2014, the society commissioned an engineer’s survey of the condition of its pier, which was built in 1925, and it recommended replacing the pier’s decaying pilings within two to five years.
To complete the full scope of the survey’s recommendations, the cost at the time was estimated at approximately $500,000.
Some steel beams were added and parts of the substructure under the two-storey pavilion at the end of the centre’s pier were repaired in 2018 in phase one of that project.
The funding for the work came from fundraising events, individual donations, and a $50,000 contribution from the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Regional grant-in-aid program.
“There’s still lots of work to be done, and we need major funding to complete the pier reconstruction project,” McLeod said.
“We’re working hard to find that funding.”