November 2021 - Newsletter

In this issue

Open Waters’ catamaran.
All photos: Open Waters

This summer Open Waters Design and Manufacturing (Open Waters) celebrated the commissioning of their all-electric catamaran. The journey began in 2016 when Simon Angus, owner, Open Waters, decided to create an innovative catamaran that would be environmentally sustainable, high performance and capable of being containerized and shipped anywhere in the world for sailing expeditions.

Two years ago, in November 2019, Angus successfully applied to Northern Development’s Northern Industries Innovation Fund for a $50,000 rebate to support the design and manufacturing of the catamaran prototype. Combining his passion for sailing with his skills as a mechanical engineer, Angus embarked on his mission to create an emissions free, all-electric catamaran.

“This project was filled with learnings and challenges and we’re grateful for the support we received from Northern Development and other funders,” said Angus. “Receiving grants helped secure the capital we required before navigating the design and manufacturing path. In the end, we exceeded our expectations, and we are proud to offer a premiere catamaran to a wide range of sailing enthusiasts.”

The entire project was geared towards producing a high-performance sailing catamaran that could be shipped in a 40-foot container. This goal was surpassed, as Open Waters used advanced manufacturing techniques and innovative design to create what they believe is the world’s first fully sustainable electric drive sailing catamaran.

Open Waters is the only carbon fiber sailboat manufacturer in Canada that uses an advanced infusion process. This economic diversification benefits Northern B.C. by introducing a new product that employs a diverse range of employees with various skillsets while bringing new money into the local economy as most boats will be sold outside of the province. Open Waters’ goal is to employ more than 40 local people within the next five years as production of these unique vessels ramps up.

The Northern Industries Innovation Fund is offered by Northern Development to support businesses as they undertake innovative projects that increase their competitiveness in traditional industries or contribute to economic diversification, such as Open Waters. The funding program is continuously accepting applications and businesses can apply for up to $50,000 in rebate funding.

Cow Bay Marina
Photo: City of Prince Rupert

It has been six years since the City of Prince Rupert embarked on a three-phase expansion of the Cow Bay Marina and the project has created positive economic benefits that have rippled through the community.

The multi-year endeavor resulted in the development of a new, 51 slip, full-service marina located in Cow Bay, Prince Rupert’s boutique shopping and tourism district. The marina provides the only moorage and access to amenities for those sailing the northern stretch of the Inside Passage.

“The Cow Bay Marina not only supports the growth of businesses by increased tourism dollars being spent locally, but it has also added to the livability aspect by providing residents of Prince Rupert access to the beautiful harbor,” said Paul Vendittelli, manager of transportation and economic development, City of Prince Rupert.  “I’ve seen everything from fishing to yoga taking place on the 600-foot-long marina breakwater.”

Between 2015 and 2018, the City of Prince Rupert completed over $4 million in upgrades to the marina and it has directly benefitted the community through the addition of new services to sailors that were previously unavailable in the area. Northern Development invested $464,873 into the three phases of improvements through the former Economic Diversification Infrastructure grant program.

The new marina provides a significant positive impact to local businesses, with direct visitor expenditures in the city increasing by approximately $2 million annually. Research at the time indicates that the average pleasure craft carries three to four passengers and stays between two and three days in a community. During this time in the marina, visitor spending ranges between $250 – $500 per day in the community as travelers disembark and spend time and money replenishing their supplies, performing maintenance and repairs, eating in restaurants, visiting laundromats and other activities.

“The marina continues to have a high occupancy rate and generates enough revenue to be completely sustainable,” said Vendittelli. “The addition of this high-quality facility has changed Prince Rupert’s seascape and provided a new source of tourism revenue for many local businesses as more and more itinerant vessels travel to Prince Rupert by water.”

The first and largest phase of the project saw the development of a new 51 slip marina beside the Prince Rupert Yacht Club. Capable of mooring 75-foot-long vessels, the marina is protected by a breakwater/wharf that provides safe waterfront access. Phase two improved the boaters’ experience by developing infrastructure to access water, electricity, washrooms, showers and laundry. Each of these services collect user fees, providing a direct source of revenue. The final stage lengthened the breakwater built in phase one by 100 feet. The extension provides additional linear footage for mooring vessels, increasing annual revenue, and gives kayak and paddle board users a proper area to launch their boats.

Phase two saw the addition of new amenities to Cow Bay, including services located in this building.
Photo: City of Prince Rupert

Northern Development disbursed a total of $464,873 through its former Economic Diversification Infrastructure grant program to assist with the costs of improving the Cow Bay Marina. Through the new community development funding programs introduced in 2020, similar projects are eligible for a grant from the new Recreation Infrastructure program.

Photos: Bridge River Valley Community Association

For over two years, boaters have enjoyed improved access to Gun Lake in the Bridge River Valley thanks to the efforts of the BRVCA Gun Lake Boat Launch Committee and funding from Northern Development.  The installation of the new boat launch was necessitated by the previous launch’s state of disrepair, which created hazardous conditions for recreationalists trying to launch their boats.

“The Bridge River Valley has an abundance of natural attractions, and Gun Lake is one of the area’s most popular spots for water sports,” said David Charchesio, chair, BRVCA Gun Lake Boat Launch Committee. “To help protect the environment and ensure people have a positive recreational experience, it was crucial that we upgrade the boat launch concrete pad so people can launch and retrieve their watercrafts safely.”

Preparing the cement pads for the boat launch.

To make the area safer for boaters and the surrounding environment, the BRVCA Gun Lake Boat Launch Committee successfully applied to Northern Development for a $13,107 grant and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District Area A for a $5,618 grant. Combined, these two grants covered the entire cost of the project – allowing residents and visitors to the area to enjoy a safe amenity without being burdened by increased taxes or other costs.

“Since the project’s completion, we’ve received many compliments, especially from locals,” said Charchesio. “These same people volunteered their labor in preparing the forms and rounding up supplies to help reduce the project cost and are grateful that the committee was able to successfully apply for grants, including the one we received from Northern Development, to allow for a new boat launch with no monetary cost to residents.”

Funding for the boat launch replacement came from the Trust’s former Community Halls and Recreation Facilities grant program. Through Northern Development’s new programs, boat launches are eligible for funding through the Recreation Infrastructure program.

Northern Development staff (and their families and pets) enthusiastically participated in Plaid Friday.

On November 26, 2021, Love Northern BC celebrated the fifth anniversary of Plaid Friday in Northern B.C. This annual campaign is designed to support independent businesses through an array of Plaid Friday celebrations in dozens of Northern B.C. communities. Shoppers in festive spirits wear plaid as they begin their holiday shopping by supporting local businesses and indulging in unique products and goods.

Throughout Northern Development’s service region, community champions in Love Northern BC communities organize festivities to encourage residents to join the celebrations and support the businesses that contribute to the community’s vibrancy.

Love Lillooet organized a Plaid Friday Winter Market featuring local artisans with live music, hot drinks and refreshments. The evening ended with a decorated car parade through town honouring frontline workers. Eddie the Eagle, one of the Trust’s carved ambassadors, travelled to Lillooet to participate in the festivities. Check out our upcoming December newsletter for pictures of the celebrations.

In the northwest, Love Houston engaged the community through a live-streamed light-up event in Steelhead Park and the Light-Up Parade to bring the holiday spirit to people’s homes in a safe way. Finn the Salmon, another carved ambassador, spent time in Houston preparing for the celebrations and participated in the parade. The December newsletter will have more pictures from his time near the world’s largest fly-fishing rod.

Love Northern BC held “A Hunting We Will Go” contest on Facebook, with 20 plaid prize packages available to be won. To enter the contest, people had to correctly identify which facility the carved ambassadors were visiting.

On November 15, Northern Development began accepting applications to the new Northern Community Shuttle (NCS) grant program. This new funding program allows local and First Nations governments, non-profits and small to medium-sized businesses to introduce, improve or continue passenger transportation services.

The NCS is part of the Northern Passenger Transportation Service, a $7.9 million fund from the Province of BC that is administered by Northern Development. Of the $7.9 million, approximately $3 million will be available to applicants through the NCS. The NCS will be administered through a single intake, with applications being accepted until December 23, 2021. Funding decisions will be announced in early 2022.

A second, separate grant intake will take place after Northern Development completes additional consultation with communities and stakeholders that would benefit from long haul transportation options.

In October 2021, Northern Development staff visited 30 communities to learn about their transportation needs. This information was gathered face-to-face and complemented feedback from local government, First Nations government and passenger transportation service providers. Read about the public consultation process in this October newsletter article.  

Read the Province of BC’s press release about the new program.