OUR HISTORY IN PORT ALBERNI
Kiteboarding in Port Alberni has occurred since approximately 2005 when two individuals would swim across to the bird sanctuary to set up and launch their kites. This being a very difficult and risky adventure, especially when it became known that the area was the outfall of the sewage ponds. Launching there promptly stopped.
We moved to jumping off piers on the "town" side and from time to time at the Wild West Water sports location, now known as Canal Beach. Using the old piers posed high risk manuevers and limited the access to only very experienced kiters.
Then Centennial Pier came along and the kiteboarders embraced this new location as it was perfectly aligned for launching their kites. Kiteboarders from all over came and used the pier for one summer. Sadly, in January 2015 a decision was made by the Port Alberni Port Authority to "ban" kiteboarding off Centennial Pier. Safety reasons was cited as a deciding factor.
The AV Times promptly began informing the public locally of this decision which quickly blossomed into a major public outcry, gaining the attention of Global BC in a TV Broadcast on their evening news province wide.
A NEW BEGININNG
In mid January 2015, a group of water users began discussing how to "overcome" this "ban" and a dialogue was started with the Port Authority to see what could be done.
It was clear that the public wanted kiteboarding here in Port Alberni, and the Port Authority, who had placed the ban, were open minded to finding an alternative.
The Port Authority suggested several sites as potential locations and structures they had that they could repurpose for the group's use. With this in mind 4 proposals were developed by Dale Moffatt and presented to the Port Authority. They decided on proposal C.
At the same time steps were taken to speak at the City Council Meeting in order to express the group's hope that the City of Port Alberni would help in this endeavour, which also was received very positively.
Once the Port Alberni Port Authority had decided on a proposal, they went into action and began the process of re-positioning the piers and installing a ramp down to the lower two launch piers.
The City of Port Alberni also came on board and committed funds to assist in the process.
Using these two piers presented a few challenges to overcome, allowing kiteboarders to launch in a safe manner:
- position the piers at specific angles to ensure the "launch window" would be viable for most wind conditions
- develop a special arch ramp to minimize line snag during launch process
- build a "swim grid" to allow safe entry and exit from the water
- remove surface obstacles from the decks of both piers
- come up with some type of covering for the piers to minimize wear on the kites landing and launching
As the launch came close to completion the South Port Kiteboarding society decided to host a fundraiser to generate funds to have safety signs made.
Thrive apparel generously donated their time in developing the T-Shirts, the South Port logos and marketing for this fundraiser.
The fundraiser was hosted by Char's Landing and many local businesses contributed by donating vouchers and prizes to auction off. It was a HUGE success.
Nearing completion it was suggested that a change room would be needed. Several local businesses donated the supplies and the City of Port Alberni's construction crew built the structure.
The project was completed, signs erected and a grand opening was planned.
The winter of 2016 was a little unfriendly to the launch and the Port Alberni Port Authority suffered some serious setbacks to access to their main pier.
It was discovered that the large vehicle ramp attachment abutments had suffered critical damage and the ramp had to be removed for safety. This cut all access off to all the piers and it took some time to assess the damage and come up with a solution.
It was then decided not to remount the large ramp but rather develop/build a smaller ramp as the stresses were determined to be too great and costs too large.
Also the small pier at the end became detached and had to be re-anchored and re-attached to the second pier.
In the spring the second pier mysteriously would separate away from the main pier and the ramp would fall down and then get squished when the pier came back into place. This was fixed and remounted only to have it happen again.
ENOUGH OF THAT
The Port Alberni Port Authority said they had been shouldering all these costs to repair all the damage and began looking for alternative options for access. Once it was determined that the wash of the large container ships on the odd occasion would create unpredictable water currents, it was decided to come up with another new ramp system which would allow for unpredictable movement of the piers with no damage to the access infrastructure.
Once again the Port Authority came up with a staircase and left it in the hands of South Port Kiteboarding to make it usable and safe.
In one weekend, with three volunteers the staircase was made ready and the Port Authority had the docks re-anchored, re-chained, re-roped and the stairs installed.
HERE WE ARE
This brings things up to date...
The South Port Kiteboarding Society would like to express their sincere thanks to the Port Alberni Port Authority for their support, investments and enthusiasm.
Also a big thank you goes to the City of Port Alberni, Mayor and councillors who have embraced us as a group, supporting us how they can.
And to the volunteers and supporters in our community...