William Ambrose serves up a meal from his food truck, Mr. Chips. (SUSAN QUINN / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

William Ambrose serves up a meal from his food truck, Mr. Chips. (SUSAN QUINN / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Food trucks find space at Clutesi Haven Marina in Port Alberni

‘Food truck pod’ is a partnership between city, port authority and Tseshaht First Nation


Clutesi Haven Marina, located on Highway 4 along the Somass River, has been a topic of interest in Port Alberni for years. It was the site of the Port Alberni Salmon Festival for 45 years, and it was also used by Hupacasath First Nation for their Sunset Market. Although the area is primarily a marina, the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) and the city have both been looking for a way to expand on the site with a development that will draw more people to stop in Port Alberni on their way out to the West Coast.

PAPA has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the site, but so far no development has been approved.

“We started looking at small, incremental changes and opportunities that would fit in with the primary usage of the marina,” explained David McCormick, director of business development with PAPA. “Often the small, incremental steps make for a big change and lasting opportunities. We see [Clutesi Haven Marina] as a long-term opportunity.”

RELATED: Victoria food truck owner sees 90 per cent decline in sales, looking for new ways to operate

RELATED: COVID-19: Food trucks free to set up at selected B.C. truck pullouts

The idea for a food truck pod came out of a meeting last summer between the city, PAPA and Tseshaht First Nation to talk about utilization of the location. Food trucks have parked at Clutesi Haven Marina in past summers, but never as part of a hub.

“We’ve always been encouraging a higher and better use for the site,” said Pat Deakin, economic development manager with the City of Port Alberni. “We’ve been looking for a ‘marquee attraction’ for the area. This proposal seemed to make sense.”

A few years ago, the city tried to start a food truck cluster on Centennial Pier, but the location didn’t work for a number of reasons—there was too much wind, and parking was difficult. The city gave it another try at Tyee Landing, but Deakin said there wasn’t much take up on it.

“Part of what’s going on now, with the pandemic and regulations around distancing, means more people are looking for takeout options,” said Deakin. “That’s when we began receiving enquiries from food trucks and trailers.”

Port Alberni Arabian Kebab was the first food truck to set up at the marina, but Emiliano’s Authentic Mexican Food and Mr. Chips followed shortly after. The vendors seem to like the area, said Deakin.

“It’s very visible, with a lot of traffic going by,” he said. “The little park area is very attractive. It’s a beautiful site.”

McCormick described Clutesi Haven Marina as a “jewel” with a lot of history.

“It’s something that we want to share with the rest of the world that’s been driving past,” he said.

The site is owned by the city and leased to PAPA. But Clutesi Haven Marina, said Tseshaht councillor Ken Watts, is an “important site” for Tseshaht First Nation, and Watts wants to incorporate a Tseshaht presence. The marina was named after the late George Clutesi, a Tseshaht artist and, fittingly, Watts is hoping to bring some First Nations artwork into the area.

“We’ve been talking to different artists, and we’re hoping to do some nice artwork to get some attention there,” said Watts.

In the meantime, Watts said he has also been reaching out to other food trucks.

“We need to utilize that space,” he said. “Right now it’s been connecting the dots and helping to bring in the people.”

All three partners—the city, PAPA and Tseshaht—would like to see the site turn into something larger and more permanent next year. They discussed the possibility of an outdoor “marketplace” with food and craft vendors.

“We’re hoping that the food pod will grow and we’ll have some more vendors down there,” Deakin said. “Our long-term goal is to attract more investment to the site, and we can eventually end up with that marquee attraction that we’ve been looking for for several years.”

With more investment, said Deakin, the city will be able to add more site improvements to give it some vibrancy—things like picnic tables, artwork and a covered shelter. PAPA and the city have already added a few improvements, including improved connections for water and paving of the gravel area.

McCormick said he wants create a park environment, while also maintaining the location’s primary usage as a marina.

“It’s a hopping, busy marina,” said McCormick. “It’s a favourite spot for residents to have a coffee, reconnect or watch the bears. We want to improve on that, and make something that builds on all the favourite reasons that people go down to Clutesi.”

“We all agree that we need to do more to stop people in Port Alberni,” said Watts. “This is one of the ways to do that.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Shaelyn Sinnott of Oak Bay Volunteer Services delivers groceries for client Irene Kenny. The organization has kept up delivery of food and medication throughout all phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Oak Bay Volunteer Services)
Oak Bay volunteers keep critical services running

Duo drove between Oak Bay and Jubilee three days a week, twice a day during pandemic

Al Kohut, owner of the new photographers GALLERY, checks out Looking Back by David Bradt. The photo printed on canvas is among 50 images featured in the Birds on the Wild Side exhibition showing until July 3. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Photo gallery in Sidney plucks out top bird photos

Birds on the Wild Side show running at the new photographers GALLERY until July 3

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read