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Cedar & Salt withdraws from coffee shop plan at Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Mayor says district sending out new Request for Proposals to operate the Wild Pacific Trail location
Ucluelet is sending out a new RFP seeking an anchor tenant for the freshly renovated former lighthouse keeper’s house at Amphitrite Point after Cedar & Salt withdrew its approved application. (Andrew Bailey photo)

The best laid plans of baristas and bureaucrats seem to have gone awry in Ucluelet.

Cedar & Salt has withdrawn its application to operate a coffee shop at the former lighthouse keeper’s house at Amphitrite Point after it had been approved by council on May 14.

The district-owned building is nearing completion of a roughly $1.3 million renovation, paid for with about $1 million from a federal government grant and about $300,000 of Ucluelet’s Resort Municipality Initiative funding.

Council’s May 14 discussion about the coffee shop had been contentious, with councillors Mark Maftei and Jennifer Hoar each objecting to the use over concerns it would prevent educational and community programming in the new space as well as the potential for increased litter in the area.

Maftei and Hoar were outnumbered by support for the coffee shop from mayor Marilyn McEwen and councillors Shawn Anderson and Ian Kennington, leading to a 3-2 vote in favour of accepting Cedar & Salt’s proposal.

As news of the incoming coffee shop spread, a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post on a Ucluelet community page suggesting a Starbucks was moving into the Amphitrite location garnered over 50 comments, including one from Cedar & Salt owner Brandon Thompson stating he had withdrawn his application.

The Westerly reached out to Thompson who confirmed he will not be moving into the building.

“It’s a very challenging space. You’re working with the district and the different societies involved, which won’t be easy. I think the district needs to have a better plan set in place as it’s a community space with lots of moving parts,” Thompson told the Westerly News. “It’s going to be very hard for a commercial food and beverage vendor in that space. I wish them the best of luck…Too much of a risk for my investment.”

Mayor Marilyn McEwen told the Westerly that the district is sending out a new Request for Proposals for anyone interested in operating the space.

“There’s no frustration. It just needs to be the right person coming forward with the right proposal…I’ve heard that there are a few other people interested in submitting to the new RFP, so finger’s crossed, I guess,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a coffee shop, but that’s what people really wanted when we had the open house years ago. Everybody thought it would be a great spot for a tea and coffee shop, so it was purposely designed to incorporate that into the interior.”

The previous RFP yielded just two responses, one from Cedar & Salt and the other from the Wild Pacific Trail Society, but the society’s application did not meet the minimum requirements of providing oversight for the facility year-round, seven days a week.

Part of the contract the District of Ucluelet is looking for from an operator is to provide supervision and oversight of the building, including washroom maintenance as well as locking and unlocking the facility.

McEwen suggested groups like the Wild Pacific Trail Society would be able to book events and programs within the space and reiterated her comments during May 14’s council discussion that educational programming could exist harmoniously with a coffee shop.

She said that if the RFP is not resolved before the building is ready to open, the district would likely still unveil the new space for the public and added she is delighted with the construction that has been done by Saltwater Building Co.

“It’s beautiful. There’s a beautiful wraparound deck. I had a little sneak preview about a month ago while it was still under construction and it’s so spectacular. It happened to be a beautiful sunny day when I was there, which helps of course, but Chris has done a really good job of the construction and emulating the lighthouse feel,” she said. “You’re looking right at the lighthouse, but what you’re in almost resembles a lighthouse. It’s kind of cool.”

She added that no matter what anchor tenant eventually moves into the new space, the new facility will provide a spectacular benefit to both residents and visitors.

“It’s a fabulous space to just go, relax and enjoy the view,” she said, adding the space will be available to rent in the evenings for special events like fundraisers and weddings.

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READ MORE: Contention brews over coffee shop at Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

READ MORE: Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail Society roasts district’s coffee shop plan at Amphitrite Point

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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