The Strathcona Regional District will lease out the use of two wharves it was given by the federal government.
Both wharves – one at Surge Narrows on Read Island and the other at Port Neville on Johnstone Strait – were previously leased out under agreements with the Canadian government before ownership was transferred to the regional district.
At its July 23 meeting, the regional district board agreed to continue on with those agreements.
The Surge Narrows agreement is with Canada Post and allows the corporation to use an existing shed on the wharf for self-serve mail boxes.
Patti Wells, operations manager for the regional district, said part of the wharf is also used as an office to process mail and provide other mail-related services to the community.
“The floating post office receives mail by seaplane three times a week,” Wells wrote in a report to the board. “There are 80 mail boxes and 59 are active. The facility reportedly services between 50 and 60 full time residents on Read Island, but also services residents from the nearby islands.”
The lessee of the Port Neville wharf is upland owner Port Neville Holdings Ltd. which maintains and operates a diesel fuel transfer line on the south side of the Port Neville approach.
“The upland property is privately owned with one full time residence,” Wells wrote. “The fuel line is in use 1.5 times a year (or) every nine months, receiving 1,000 to 1,200 gallons of diesel which is stored in a 5,000 gallon tank located on the upland property.”
Wells said that continuing on with the lease agreement ensures the owner’s storage tank can be adequately refuelled in order to continue long-term residence on the property while at Surge Narrows.
Canada Post’s agreement ensures continued use of the site as a post office which is the heart of the community and a meeting place for area residents.
Area C Director Jim Abram, and whose electoral area the wharves fall under, wanted to confirm that the regional district would be the payee.
“Canada Post would pay the regional district for that lease?” Abram said.
“So that would be some income that will go into the wharves?”
Tom Yates, the regional district’s corporate officer, replied that would indeed be the case.
The regional district took over ownership and operation of the Surge Narrows and Port Neville wharves – as well as one at Owen Bay on Sonora Island – last November.
The federal government, in exchange, gave the regional district $2.89 million to cover operational costs and maintain the infrastructure of all three port facilities over an initial 10-year period, with a possibility of future extensions.
The transfer of ownership took place under the federal government’s Port Divestiture Program which has seen the federal government unload several of its port facilities to local governments.
Since 1996, Transport Canada has transferred the ownership and operation of more than 80 of its public wharves across B.C.