McBarge passes third reading Monday

Sturgeon's on the Fraser project moves into next phase; land must be acquired for parking

Sturgeon's on the Fraser developer Howard Meakin (left)

Developer Howard Meakin stood up and raised his fists over his head in triumph following approval of third reading of his floating restaurant at public hearing Monday evening.

The gesture was made half in jest, since the two-year battle to receive full approval for Sturgeon’s on the Fraser — proposed to be located near the former Meeker Cedar Mill site at the foot of Horne Street — may be only half over. Meakin must still follow a number of other requirements prior to adoption of the foreshore zone amending bylaw, including the acquisition of adjacent land to meet district parking requirements.

Municipal hall was filled to capacity Monday evening as overflow spectators sat in the foyer to listen to residents and past councillors.

Former council members Terry Gidda, Danny Plecas, Paul Horn and Heather Stewart presided over the previous application for the Sturgeon’s on the Fraser project, but refused to pass third reading because without acquiring land for parking it was considered an incomplete application.

Stewart read out a letter from Horn, who was absent, offering support for the project with the stipulation the developer provide a bond or surety that the barge would be towed away if the project fails, that the community be consulted on the form and character of the project, and that the parking doesn’t become a waterfront eyesore.

“I’m not so sure that it’s the business of the council to ensure that a business is going to be viable,” said Wilson Seig to applause.

Ron Taylor echoed his comments, suggesting requiring a bond wouldn’t be within the legal rights of council.

“We’ve heard an awful lot of what developers should or shouldn’t do from people who’ve never worked a day in private industry in their lives,” he said.

Meakin said the barge will be cleaned before it’s towed to Mission, but it will be refurbished and renovated here.

“It’s not a mom and pop operation, but it’s a lot of money and it’s a lot of jobs,” he said, assuring people in attendance that Missionites would benefit from employment before and after project completion.

Of the 28 written submissions sent to the district, 26 offered support for the project, including the tourism boards of regional municipalities, with just two opposed.

In addition to securing the upland properties, Meakin must also have a long-term lease of the foreshore area from the province, make dike improvements, provide engineering and landscaping plans, and other stipulations prior to full approval.