YARMOUTH - Creating a happy marriage between Yarmouth’s working waterfront and non-marine-related businesses has its challenges.
Participants in the first segment of Yarmouth's 2017 Waterfront Symposium held Oct. 11 at the Mariners Centre learned about obstacles to development, then discussed solutions and opportunities in round-table sessions.
The event was hosted by the Town of Yarmouth and coordinated by WSP engineering and consulting services.
Dave Warner, a volunteer with the Yarmouth Waterfront Corporation board of directors, began with a presentation of how much the waterfront has improved over the past 50 years.
One of those projects included the Hartlin Trail, which runs from the north end of Water Street to Bunker Island.
The Parker Eakins wharf, the Killam wharf and marina were upgraded and/or built, plus floating docks and public washrooms were added.
“One of the advantages is how close Main Street is for people who come in on boats. They’re loving the opportunity to just walk up for a coffee or meal,” said Warner.
Improvements have also been made in the way of Frost Park, the Lawrence Sweeney Fisheries Museum, the Milton Park, the Lost to the Sea memorial, interpretive panels, the Coal Shed building, the Hawthorne Street project and the development of the South West Nova Biosphere Reserve Interpretation Centre.
Warner said they were excited to see the waterfront as a destination to celebrate.
Greg Shay, director of finance for the Municipality of Yarmouth and general manager of the Yarmouth and Area Industrial Commission, spoke about some of the challenges and opportunities for the Port of Yarmouth.
In his presentation, Shay said that the herring catch (70 to 80 million pounds) composes 70 per cent of the total value of fish products landed at the port and that herring tankers have a significant impact on waterfront traffic.
“It’s a big logistical issue.
Financial sustainability, limited real estate and aging infrastructure that would require millions of dollars to address, are other issues, he added.
Space is becoming a problem because there are bigger and more boats than in the past.
“Where you used to be able to berth four or five across, you can only fit three now,” he said.
Shay said there are opportunities in integration of marine businesses with the ferry terminal and Killam wharf operation. There are also prospects for increased business because of Yarmouth’s geophysical location with the Bay of Fundy.
Independent consultant J. D. MacCulloch spoke about what WSP has observed to date.
“We see a very effective, well-managed working waterfront. It’s also a very beautiful waterfront with a lot of charm,” he said.
During a round-table session, the following was discussed: residential options on the waterfront, diversification of uses, use of former cotton mill site, expanding on the small cruise ship market, more tourism, adding more capacity south of Lobster Rock wharf (possibly Bunkers Island).
Anne Winters, urban planner with WSP, also shared what they had heard from the public.
“There’s a potential for more food and retail services along the waterfront. We also heard that the events that do happen here in Yarmouth are very well attended and more opportunities for waterfront events is desirable.”
Jeffrey Ward, senior planner with WSP, said the information gathered during the session will be complied and analyzed for key ideas.
“We’ll be developing an initial concept that we think will address as many of the issues and problems we’ve heard in the past couple of weeks.”
The second public session of the Yarmouth 2017 Waterfront Symposium will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 18, at the Mariners Centre.
More about the Port of Yarmouth
Landed catches for the Port of Yarmouth 2014-2016 were worth $44 to 52 million, (75 to 85 million pounds of fish products).
The total landed lobster catches are only four per cent of the total but count for about 30 per cent of the value of fish products at the port.
The port is home base for 36 lobster, herring and scallop vessels, as well as transient vessels from different districts throughout the season.
The wharves composing the Port of Yarmouth were built in the 60s and early 70s.