This rendering shows the proposed building that would stand on the pontoon proposed to replace Beacon Wharf. (Sidney Waterfront Partnership rendering)

This rendering shows the proposed building that would stand on the pontoon proposed to replace Beacon Wharf. (Sidney Waterfront Partnership rendering)

Sidney won’t add third option to Beacon Wharf engagement process

Residents to weigh in on choice between public-private partnership pontoon or not replacing wharf

Formal consultations concerning the future of Sidney’s Beacon Wharf scheduled for the fall will feature two — and only two options — following Monday’s council meeting. Several councillors, however, expect they will hear the public present other options as well.

Councillors voted 5-2 with Couns. Barbara Fallot and Terri O’Keeffe opposed to starting the formal consultation process, which will see the municipality present two options: replace Beacon Wharf with a floating wharf under a public-private partnership with Sidney Waterfront Partnership (SWP) or maintain the existing wharf to the end of its expected lifespan without replacing it.

This formal opposition from Fallot and O’Keeffe marks a reversal from their previous position during committee-of-the-whole last week when they raised no objections.

Their position changed Monday when they voted in favour of a failed amendment proposed by O’Keeffe to include a third option calling on council to explore a floating wharf option other than the public-private partnership in case residents were not happy with the two original options.

“We really didn’t go out and look at other possible options and that is a concern for me,” O’Keeffe said.

The committee charged with reviewing the future of the aging wharf had considered but rejected other floating and non-floating options on grounds of costs and other factors.

“I’m not suggesting that the committee revisit all (non-floating options),” she said. “I just want the public to have the opportunity to say something else.”

The majority of her colleagues, however, disagreed with the need to put a third formal option before the public.

“We always had the understanding that the public might tell us that they don’t like either of the options, but we did consider looking at other floating wharf options and decided not with good reasons that we explained last time,” said Coun. Peter Wainwright.

RELATED: Public to weigh in on future of Sidney wharf

He later added Sidney could get a custom-made floating wharf (rather than rely on the pontoon that SWP plans to donate) but at a significant cost.

If the public does not like either of those options, Sidney will have to go back to the drawing board anyway, he said.

Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said he is confident the committee did its due diligence in presenting the two final options. “I wouldn’t want to give the impression to the public that there is another option out there that just needs to be looked at.”

Other members of council were more forceful in their rejection of including a third option. “These are the two options that we have,” said Coun. Sara Duncan, who like Wainwright and Coun. Chad Rintoul, hold membership in the committee tasked with reviewing the future of the wharf.

“Sometimes, the options you have in life are not the infinite variety you wish that you could have and I really hope that the public can accept that we have evaluated as best we can what is going to work for the town and what is in all of our best interest,” she said.

The proposed public-private partnership between the municipality and SWP would see SWP donate the pontoon, which was once part of the original floating bridge over the Hood Canal in Washington State and has an estimated value of $795,000. Its central feature would be a two-storey building with a 120-seat restaurant on the first level (along with 600 square feet of commercial and 400 sq. ft. of public space) and an eight-room hotel on the second level. It would also include seasonal moorage.

SWP would cover the building cost and assume a share of the various costs to operate it. Sidney would be responsible for the removal of the existing wharf; the towing of the pontoon, its refurbishment and moorage; as well as the ramp connecting it to Beacon Avenue, among other elements.

The lease between the parties would be for 50 years.

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