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Barge terminal building may have second life

Mayor receives input regarding potential uses for facility

While City of Powell River Council has called for expressions of interest in demolishing the old barge terminal buildings on the Westview waterfront, there may be interest in maintaining them.

At its Thursday, February 19 meeting, council unanimously passed a motion that a request for proposals for the future of the barge facility be amended to include calls for potential development of the former barge facility.

At council’s committee of the whole meeting earlier in the day, Mayor Dave Formosa said a recent Powell River Peak story and photograph generated interest and phone calls about potential uses for the building. Formosa said that an individual that he and Councillor Russell Brewer met at the recent Truck Loggers Association convention is trying to pitch for a value-added mill for the community.

“Subsequently, he and others saw the article in the paper and they saw the request for proposals (RFP) that went out the first time that was asking for an expression of interest,” Formosa said. “Now there is another RFP going out asking: do you want to buy it and take it away? Give us your best pitch.”

Formosa indicated that in addition to the proposition of demolishing the building, there are some other prospects. He said Cooper Yachts spoke to him and to city staff about moving the operation from the north harbour to the south because it makes sense for the business.

“They talked about wanting a spot for their office there,” Formosa said.

He added that Powell River Yacht Club does not have a home and could take a piece of that building also.

“It can generate some revenue and be made appealing,” he said. “Look at Granville Island. It’s those kinds of buildings. It’s kind of cool.”

Proponents for the building asked if it was too late because they wanted to bid. Formosa said he contacted the director of planning services about the matter and he said the RFP could be modified so that it not only calls for demolition of the old barge terminal building, but also bids for other uses.

“What I am looking for is direction,” Formosa said. “It is a good asset there.”

Formosa said the existing building is on the shore, and if the building remains, that space is secured. If it is knocked down and then someone wants to erect a building at some later date, there could be issues regarding setbacks and other conditions that could limit the potential of the space.

“So many people tell me, you’ve got to come to Powell River for a reason, but when they come, they love it,” said Formosa. “That’s why we are always saying let’s have events, conferences and conventions that bring people here.”

Mac Fraser, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the reason the initial request for expressions of interest was for a straight disposal was because the Westview waterfront committee’s final report identified that building as being a challenge to parking and it was considered an eyesore—the last blemish on the beautiful waterfront.

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