The project helped attract seiners, packers, trawlers, aquaculture vessels and tugs to this site. It has also cemented Port Hardy as a service site for large commercial vessels.
The Port Hardy area has been identified as one of the hardest hit communities in BC, following the BHP Island Copper Mine shutdown in 1996 and the fluctuations in fishing, logging and aquaculture since that time. Port Hardy is the northernmost port on Vancouver Island and supports offloading of 40% of all hook and line and trawl offloads in BC. The regional economy is also strongly supported by tourism, as the BC Ferries gateway to the Central Coast and the abundance of sport fishing, outdoor adventure and ecotourism opportunities. The many harbour user groups all agreed that significant upgrades to the harbour were required to support new tourism, improved productivity for the fishing and aquaculture sectors, as well as increased opportunities for marine services and niche tourism businesses.
The Seine Float and area upgrade project consisted of 6 components. The first component was to expand and upgrade the Seine Floats with drive on capacity and services. This included the replacement of the network of old wooden floats with four concrete floats with drive on capacity where vessels can moor temporarily and also be serviced. Upland parking lot #13 was expanded to provide short-term parking and access the 55 metre long drive-on access ramp to the floats. The second component was to upgrade the summer t-floats (which serve as an important gathering point for recreational marine traffic). The project also included upland improvements to improve access to the dock. Necessary building amenities were also built, including a wharfinger’s office and public restrooms, improved parking and security, as well as environmental sustainability upgrades and landscaping to make the facility more attractive to visitors. Tourism amenities were also integrated, such as a family-friendly fishing park with an interpretive educational component.
The wide ranging scope of these upgrades, completed by 2013, has had a measurable impact on the Port Hardy economy. The new amenities and productivity upgrades have allowed for more commercial vessels to offload in Port Hardy. This has had a positive impact on the local fish processing plant and marine service companies (case study of Keltic Seafoods). The increase in transient recreational vessel moorage has had a positive impact on downtown Port Hardy businesses and the development of new tourism related events and businesses. In 2012, Port Hardy was one of the only North Island communities to have a positive increase in population, bucking the trend for decreasing population in other rural areas in BC and around the world. This project, together with other ICET supported investments in the region, is proving to have a significant and lasting impact on the community’s economic vitality and quality of life (case study of Port Hardy area).