Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) will be providing some funding for the City of Port Alberni, Tseshaht First Nation and Hupacasath First Nation to create a master plan for Clutesi Haven Marina.
Situated on the tidal fresh waters of the Somass River, and along Highway 4 en route to the West Coast, Clutesi Haven Marina has been a topic of interest in Port Alberni for many years. It is an important cultural site for both Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations, and the city has been looking for a way to expand the site and draw more people to stop in Port Alberni on their way out to the West Coast.
The property, owned by the city and leased by the Port Alberni Port Authority, sees approximately 1.6 million people drive by each year.
All three governments announced on Wednesday, July 5 that they have formed a working group for the “first phase” of a plan that will envision how Clutesi Haven Marina can be best redeveloped to the benefit of all community members and visitors. Island Coastal Economic Trust has committed $30,000 to this project through the Trust’s Investment Readiness Program’s Regional Collaboration stream.
“This funding is assisting our three governments to work together to bring our vision for Clutesi Haven to a reality,” said Hupacasath Chief Councillor Brandy Lauder in a press release.
“Tseshaht knows that by working together there is nothing that we cannot achieve,” added Tseshaht First Nation Chief Councillor Wahmeesh (Ken Watts). “Our three governments working together is a sign that the world has changed as we all work towards sustainable economic development to benefit everyone in our territories including the Alberni Valley.”
City of Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions says the project builds on past efforts between the three governments to create a “destination attraction” in the Alberni Valley.
“We’re looking at the challenges, issues, and opportunities through the lens of each of the three councils and our senior staff,” she said. “The idea is to develop a truly shared land use vision for the site that is a long-term financially sustainable partnership.”
In the past, the three governments have worked together to create a “modest” visitor and community experience at Clutesi Haven Marina. This included food trucks and Indigenous art on display. While the idea allowed a few families to earn income during the summer months and helped amplify the reach of Indigenous art, the project partners had a clear vision to achieve greater potential.
“Our past experience was a catalyst to develop our three-year facilitated First Nation-municipal Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) program,” explained Pat Deakin, economic development manager for the City of Port Alberni. “It was from here that our workshops and working groups began, and which are today allowing us to embark on this new and collaborative vision.”
The new master plan for Clutesi Haven Marina will support the development of the shared land use vision, and the design process for that will take the three partners’ working group through a series of project phases to arrive at a consensus vision and robust plan to be presented to their respective and collective communities. This plan will then be integrated into the city’s Official Community Plan (OCP). Once those are approved, the partners will move into the second phase of implementing the vision.
“This project is very exciting for the Trust to be supporting,” said Aaron Stone, chair for ICET. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with Tseshaht, Hupacasath, and Port Alberni in this work of sharing responsibility to form a consensus vision between three governments through collaborative leadership.”
Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, says that partnerships such as this help foster new ideas, allowing for the sharing of resources and building of lasting relationships.