Lisa Morgan-Mack, one of Toquaht Nation Chief Anne Mack’s six daughters, led a traditional dance to the ‘Victory Song’ during the Grand Opening of Secret Beach Marina, Campground and Kayak Launch on June 21. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Toquaht Nation opens new marina in Barkley Sound near Ucluelet

“Our journey, our choice, our future. That is what we as a Maa-nulth Treaty Nation have taken on.”

Toquaht Nation officially opened a new $1.35M marina, campground and kayak launch at Secret Beach on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Located about a 30-minute drive from Ucluelet in the heart of Barkley Sound, Secret Beach is hailed as the gateway to the Broken Group Islands in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

“Our journey, our choice, our future. That is what we as a Maa-nulth Treaty Nation have taken on,” said Chief Anne Mack at the Grand Opening event. “This is our motto. Our journey is now in our own hands. Today is one of the days to prove that we are now our own government that is pursuing our own economic development that benefits not just us, but the whole community and surrounding area,” said Chief Mack, who has been governing Toquaht Nation since 2009.

READ: Indigenous tourism blossoming on Vancouver Island

The construction of Toquaht’s new marina was supported with a $950,000 contribution from the Government of British Columbia and $400,000 investment from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET).

The first phase of the development includes: a 40-slip marina, construction of a new double-wide boat launching ramp, a new marina access road, parking facilities, and breakwater at Secret Beach.Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser wrote a congratulatory letter to Chief Mack on behalf of the province.

“The leap forward that you celebrate today is a fitting illustration of your Nation’s hard work and commitment to seize an opportunity that will benefit your community and the entire region. You are providing services and resources that will greatly benefit those who will come to enjoy the beauty of Toquaht Lands and Barkley Sound,” read Fraser’s letter.

“I appreciate the strong relationship we have with the Toquaht Nation and look forward to a continuing partnership based on respect and recognition of rights to make life better for everyone in Toquaht Nation and the entire region,” the letter concludes.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne, above with Chief Mack, spoke at the Secret Beach Marina opening on behalf of ICET.

“ICET was established about 13 years ago by the province of British Columbia and it was established for northern, western and middle of Vancouver Island to help the transition away from a traditional resource sector base economy that was struggling a little bit and to help communities like Toquaht and other municipalities, regional districts, and First Nations, begin to diversify their economies,” said Osborne.

“And what we see here today is such a shining example of a community that sees a future for itself, and needs a little bit of extra help,” she said.

Rick Shafer, Toquaht’s economic development manager, said he hopes everyone can appreciate just how difficult it is to get a new marina built.

“I can probably count on one hand the complete new marinas that have been built on the Coast of B.C. in the last 20 years,” said Shafer at the Grand Opening.

“From all the environmental studies and the permitting that’s involved before you can even start construction, it’s a very daunting task. It’s great to see that Toquaht had the vision and the dedication to stick to it and get it done,” he said.

“There is still more coming,” said Chief Mack at the end of her speech. “This is the beginning.”

According to a media release issued by ICET, the Marina is the first phase of a broader plan that will transform Secret Beach into a regional tourism hub. Future developments will include the construction of a common building with café, gift shop and meeting rooms, rental cabins, kayak comfort station and other infrastructure to support cultural tourism.

The project is expected to create approximately three person-years of new construction phase jobs as well as 15 permanent local jobs within a three to five year term, notes the media release.

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