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Policy sinks idea

Owner of classic wooden yacht gives up on town
Laura Walz

A Whitehorse resident with an idea for her classic wooden yacht is questioning whether Powell River is truly open for business.

Dawn Kostelnik, who along with her husband Rick Cousins owns the Audrey Eleanor, wishes to dock the custom-built 54-foot vessel in the south harbour and operate it as a floating bed and breakfast (B&B). However, the run-around she received from Powell River officials has frustrated her to such an extent she is giving up on Powell River.

Kostelnik said she contacted Kim Miller, Powell River Chamber of Commerce manager, last winter. “Kim was most helpful and when I presented my plan to her, she seemed most excited about it as well,” Kostelnik wrote in an email.

Miller sent her to Scott Randolph, Powell River Regional Economic Development Society (PRREDS) manager, who sent her to Stan Westby, the city’s chief administrative officer, and Regina Sadilkova, manager of development services, Kostelnik said. Westby was out of town and Sadilkova sent her back to Randolph, who never returned her calls. “Around and around the mulberry bush we went,” Kostelnik wrote. “It is very frustrating and time consuming going around and around in circles.”

In 2008, Kostelnik began a series of stories for the Whitehorse Star newspaper, entitled the Adventures of the Audrey Eleanor. The series chronicled a voyage from Haines, Alaska to Vancouver Island in 2006, the winter of storms. “To my surprise, the series developed a huge following,” Kostelnik wrote. “Stories were sent by fans all over the world and when I ended that particular series on December 31, 2010, some of Audrey’s fans cried.”

The boat is moored in Pender Harbour now, but Kostelnik and her husband have fallen in love with Powell River and want to move here. She thinks the Audrey Eleanor would attract people to Powell River and believes there is already a connection between Whitehorse and Powell River, which just needs a little nurturing. “There is a boom in the Yukon and the dynamics of the territory have changed dramatically. Empty-nesters here are trying to downsize and retire but the cost of re-entering the market here is prohibitive. They are looking for a reasonable housing market with reasonable weather to relocate to. You have all of that to offer and more, if you are truly open for business.”

The south harbour has a no liveaboard policy, but Kostelnik said that she was planning a three-day minimum stay for visitors.

Randolph told the Peak he did what he could for Kostelnik and denied that he sent her to Westby and Sadilkova. He said he told her to call Tor Birtig, manager of operational services. But Kostelnik said no one told her to contact Birtig.

The south harbour is a federal government facility, but the City of Powell River operates it for Small Craft Harbours, explained Birtig. Vessels are welcome to dock at the facility for months, Birtig said, and owners have to sign a contract after mooring for a month. People are allowed to stay on a boat up to seven days, he added. “After the eighth day, then they’re considered overstaying the welcome,” he said. “They can berth there for months, but they can’t stay on the boat.”

The policy has been outlined by Small Craft Harbours, Birtig said, adding it recommends against liveaboards. As well, there are concerns about the potential for fires to start and security.

Kostelnik said she is frustrated, both by the run-arounds and by the roadblocks to her idea. “You guys keep doing what you’re doing and you’re going to keep having what you’ve got,” she said. “I’m giving up dealing with Powell River.”

However, if someone sees the opportunity and the “bigger picture,” she would be willing to talk to that person, Kostelnik added. She can be contacted at

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