A major funding announcement was made on Thursday that might necessitate a new name for Secret Beach.
The Toquaht First Nation is about to begin construction on a $1.35 million 40-slip marina at Secret Beach that is expected to include a new boat launching ramp, access road, parking facilities and breakwater.
The project is the first phase of a massive master plan the Nation has developed to transform Secret Beach into a major player within the West Coast’s booming cultural tourism industry. Future plans for the site include doubling the new marina’s capacity to 80 vessels and creating a common building, café, gift shop, meeting rooms, rental cabins, kayak comfort station and other amenities.
“It has always been in our plans to expand and share our beautiful country with recreational tourists,” Toquaht First Nation Chief Anne Mack told the Westerly News. “We’re building out to really make it a comfortable and good area for people to come and relax and see the beauty.”
She added the Nation will ensure development does not overshadow the area’s sought-after serenity.
“We have plans to keep it as pristine as it is now,” she said. “We know people want to get away from bigger centres and come see the natural beauty that it has and we’d like to keep it that way.”
Located on the northern edge of Barley Sound, east of Ucluelet, the spot serves as a popular access point for paddlers heading to the Broken Group Islands within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and Mack said a specific area has already been carved out for them to launch into their journey.
“We built, in our new campsite, a specific area so that they can drive right down to this beautiful little tiny beach and unpack their stuff and then we’ve got a parking area specifically for them,” she said. “It’s really nice and people love it.”
Mack said her late father, Chief Bert Mack, spent decades fishing in Barkley Sound and “would be proud to see this new marina.”
“Our economic development mission is to create businesses that respect the history, culture, and traditions of the Toquaht Nation, and this project embodies that mission exactly,” she said.
The project was made possible, in part, thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Island Coastal Economic Trust.
“The Toquaht Nation has been proactive and innovative in building new economic opportunities, and when environmental concerns forced a change in their plans to redevelop the Toquaht Bay campground and marina, the Nation identified a new opportunity at Secret Beach,” said the Trust’s Chair Phil Kent through a March 8 media release. “This project will attract visiting boaters to the islands and coastline of this rugged area creating new opportunities for eco-tourism, cultural tourism and hospitality business development.”
The new marina is expected to be completed by October and Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, NDP, who also serves as B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, congratulated both the Nation and the Trust for their successful collaboration.
“This investment will drive new economic opportunities and create jobs for the Toquaht community, to the benefit of the entire region,” Fraser said.