The Cowichan Wooden Boat Society has received $362,000 towards the rehabilitation of the aging and closed 89-metre pier adjacent to the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre, which the society runs, from the federal government.
Harjit Sajjan, minister of International Development and minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, made the announcement on Nov. 25 at Victoria’s Craigflower Community Centre that the financial contribution to the pier project had been awarded under the Canada Community Revitalization Fund.
Society president Sylvia Berryman said approximately $210,000 more is needed to complete this phase of the pier project, which now has a budget of $942,000.
She said the project originally intended to include supplying materials and replacing deteriorated creosote treated wood beams and pilings with environmentally sensitive steel beams and pilings.
But Berryman said since the initial cost estimates were prepared, many factors have changed.
“Due to supply chain issues and shortages in the labour force, the project had to be broken down into stages,” she said.
“What, hopefully, will be accomplished with the available funding is the installation of all necessary components below the horizontal deck of the pier. In October, the society’s pier committee visited the Pacific Industrial and Marine fabrication plant where the metal components of the new pier supports were being assembled. Witnessing this work hits home the magnitude of this project.”
Berryman said reconstruction work on the pier began on Dec. 5, with the completion date estimated for March 31.
“We invite and encourage visitors and members of the community to come down and take in a little piece of history being made,” she said.
The wooden pier, which was built by Standard Oil in 1925, has a distinct trestle-like structure, three small wooden buildings along the approach and a two-storey pavilion at its end.
In 2014, the society commissioned an engineer’s survey of the condition of the wooden pier, which was added to the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Community Heritage Registry in 2015, and it recommended replacing the pier’s decaying pilings.
Some steel beams were added and parts of the substructure under the pavilion were repaired in 2018.
In 2019, the society again hired engineers to visually assess the pier’s condition for insurance purposes.
The results were unfavourable and the pier was considered unsafe for public use and has been closed ever since.
The society launched “The Pile Drive” fundraiser to raise money for the required work on the pier.
As well as the federal contribution from PacifiCan, the funding for the work so far has come mainly from fundraising events, individual donations, the Dogwood Heritage Society of BC, 100 Women Who Care Cowichan, and a $50,000 contribution from the CVRD’s regional grant-in-aid program.
Berryman said the original scope of the project was to rehabilitate the pier and install a new culturally sensitive Indigenous history exhibit on the pier.
“The pier is 97 years old, and the goal is to get it back to like-new condition to ensure the longevity of the pier for use for the next 100 or more years,” she said.
“The perfect vantage point to view the work underway by Pacific Industrial and Marine is from the Patio Portal at the rear of the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre, which is open dawn to dusk.”
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