After a windstorm damaged White Rock’s iconic pier in December, many speculated that the loss of the popular tourist attraction would have a ripple effect on waterfront businesses.
Although nobody can be certain of the actual impact until summer, there’s at least one business that has been directly affected by the temporary loss of the structure.
White Rock Sea Tours and Whale Watching has operated off the south end of the pier for a number of years. With the loss of the space and dock that was used to launch sea tours, owner Andrew Newman has been forced to relocate his business for the upcoming season.
Newman told Peace Arch News Tuesday that he’s in the process of opening office space at the Crescent Beach Marina (12555 Crescent Rd.).
Although there are positives to the new space, such as conveniently located customer parking, nearby washrooms and the marina store, he’s expecting to lose some potential clients.
“That’s going to sting me this year, for sure,” Newman said. “We don’t have the walk-up traffic here at Crescent Beach Marina that you would at the pier. I would say that was maybe 15 to 20 per cent of the business, maybe more,” Newman said.
Newman said he’s been working with White Rock director of recreation and culture Eric Stepura to make the transition more seamless, but Newman expressed concern with how long he expects the pier will take to rebuild.
The City of White Rock anticipates that the pier will reopen by late August.
“The bureaucratic processes that they have to go through are slow and cumbersome, it seems. That’s where people get frustrated in the community, because it takes too long to move things along, or there’s not an established timeline and plan that gets published,” Newman said.
“They say August, but then nobody sees anything happening, nobody hears anything then they start to speculate.”
Last month, city council approved $5.4 million for immediate repairs to the pier and other costs related to the windstorm.