Sidney's Beacon Wharf

Pontoon company piqued at prospect of public-private partnership around Sidney wharf

Seagate approached to submit proposeal for public-private partnership

A spokesperson for Seagate Pontoons said the company is interested in striking a public-private partnership with Sidney as the municipality ponders the future of the iconic Beacon Wharf while noting that the process is in its early stage.

“Certainly, there is an interest on our part, but we are just looking at what the content and the format of that proposal would entail,” said Mike Cronquist, vice-president of business development for the company, itself part of Marker Group, a real-estate development firm with holdings across the Saanich Peninsula, including Sidney. “P3 can mean a lot of different things. It obviously has to be something that works for both parties, being the town and ourselves.”

The committee overseeing the future of the Sidney wharf is recommending the municipality invite Seagate Pontoons to submit a formal proposal for a potential partnership to replace the iconic but aging wharf.

Beacon Wharf is approaching the end of its life – within 10 years – and four broad options have emerged for its future: replacement with a rock base; replacement with a piled structure; replacement with a floating structure; and no replacement at all. Several factors including replacement costs, environmental concerns including rising sea levels, the future of businesses operating on the wharf and the wharf’s place in Sidney’s viewscape, are to shape any future choice.

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Seagate Pontoons owns the last remaining pontoon (the so-called N-Pontoon) of the eastern half of the concrete floating pontoon bridge that ran across Washington State’s Hood Canal. Speaking before the committee last November, Cronquist said the the pontoon offers several advantages, starting with its ability to rise and fall with the sea.

At that time he pegged the sales price for the piece at $795,000 with other related costs not yet factored into the final equation.

A report subsequently circulated among committee members pegged the potential maximum cost for a floating structure at $6.5 million. By comparison, a piled structure could cost $10 million. It would cost about $2 million to remove the wharf at the end of its useful life, followed by enhancements to the waterfront.

The Town of Sidney and Seagate Pontoons are familiar partners. “We have a history of development on the downtown waterfront, with [Marker],” said Cronquist. “We have the Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa. We are very invested in [Sidney] and there are certainly some synergies relative to what we can offer to the [municipality] as developers.”

It is not clear when the company would present a proposal as it does not face any specific deadline. “But obviously, for both of our interests, we want to take a look at it relatively quickly and see what that might entail,” he said.

Cronquist said that the company will now look at the various scenarios as it prepares its proposal. “It’s certainly something that we will do in stages and see if it works,” he said. “We’d love to see something happen down there for sure.”


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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