Designed for our community

Get the FACTS: The George Marine Resort & Residences supports local economic, environmental, and social sustainability. The following Q&A addresses popular questions and answers regarding the development plans underway to ensure the George will be a viable and environmentally conscientious asset to the Town of Gibsons and the region.

 

Quick Links:

The George Development Process to date/Town of Gibsons

George Development Application updates/Town of Gibsons

ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY

How will the George support economic development sustainably?

  • The developer has committed $1,280,00 for improvements to area infrastructure (sewer upgrades) and pending road repairs. An additional $156,648 has been paid into the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund.
  • A financial contribution for improvements to Winegarden Park, an improved, accessible seawalk, and improved docking facilities in the marina are pending. (A temporary seawalk extension through the GEORGE property links Winegarden Park to the existing walkway fronting the marina.)  Future municipal, regional district and school tax revenues on the GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort and Residences are expected to exceed $3M per year, providing a firm financial base for future support of community amenities and infrastructure.
  • Construction will generate over 250 man-years of direct and spin-off employment, pumping an estimated $54M in wages alone into the local economy. (See the 2014 Coriolis Review of Costs and Revenues posted on the Town’s website. Figures quoted should be adjusted for current norms.)
  • When completed, the hotel expects to partner with hospitality training schools (VCC, VIU, CapU) to provide hands-on experience in a five-star facility. Graduates will be able to find employment at top hotels, restaurants or wellness facilities anywhere in the world. But for those wishing to remain and raise their families in the community, over 130 well paying full- or part-time jobs at The GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort will enable them to do so.
  • Through the Regional Hotel Marketing Tax, the GEORGE  is expected to add thousands of dollars annually into Sunshine Coast Tourism, helping to sustain its national and international advertising and promotion programs.

Will the GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort take away business from local B&Bs, restaurants, galleries and shops?

  • Just the opposite. The GEORGE will draw attention to Gibsons and all its nearby amenities and activities. Visitor numbers to the area are estimated to increase by at least 30,000 annually once The GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort opens – a number than exceeds the available rooms at The GEORGE. And of those thousands of new visitors, many are expected to select other nearby accommodations that better match their personal preferences. Through website and advertising promotions, guests of The GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort will be encouraged to explore and experience the local art and heritage of the historic Gibsons Landing through self-directed walking tours, with local events and attractions highlighted. The increased traffic will benefit all businesses and service providers in the area, with increased spending at retail, restaurant and services estimated at over $14M per annum.

Tourist Season runs from May through October. Won’t the hotel sit empty for much of the year?

  • As a year-round destination resort with conference facilities and spa, the The GEORGE will not depend on seasonal traffic. Corporate retreats using the conference, meeting, and spa facilities will keep the GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort busy through the shoulder and off season and provide additional revenue to area businesses in what has traditionally been a “quiet” time.

We already have the Government Wharf marina, and Smitty’s Marina, and the Gibsons Marina. Do we really need more moorage?

  • Yes. All three marinas have long waiting lists for permanent moorage and very limited availability for “transient” boaters wishing to visit our community. The demand for transient moorage has skyrocketed in recent years and currently stands at over 2,000 requests per year at the Gibsons Marina alone. The GEORGE  will work with Gibsons Marina & Fuel to provide more day moorage slips, bringing new marine travelers to the community. The improved dock facilities will accommodate charter boats bringing conference guests from Vancouver and Vancouver Island and facilitate docking for a foot passenger commuter ferry. Projected improvements to existing facilities include better waterfront access through a public plaza, an upgraded fuel dock, and enhancements to Gibsons Marina chandlery providing point-of-entry visitor information and exceptional customer service.

Won’t the new facility be geared to superyachts and other luxury vessels?

  • No. Don’t expect to see superyachts mooring in Gibsons Harbour. It’s too shallow to allow these heavy, deep-draft vessels to tie up within the breakwater-protected area. The new moorage will be primarily designated for short-term, transient moorage for visitors  – and thus, an economic driver for the whole community as visitors stop and shop.

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

If the Town leases the water lot and foreshore to the developer, won’t we be losing the last remaining natural area in our harbor?

  • No – because the area is not a natural area, and it’s not being lost to the public. Currently buried in rip-rap and bordered by non-native brush (blackberries etc.), the stream mouth is inaccessible to the public and certainly not in its original, natural state. As part of the restoration and remediation of the foreshore, the developer will upgrade the seawalk for public use. This will allow accessible views of the restored wetland, using native plants to provide food and habitat for waterfowl , river otters and more.  Note that, since the Town does not have funds to carry out this work, if the lease is not approved, nothing happens – and this corner of the harbour will remain in its current unsightly, inhospitable and inaccessible condition.

In these times of annual droughts, can the Gibsons aquifer supply the water needs of these residences and the hotel while still meeting the needs of area residents?

  • Yes. Waterline Resources Inc. prepared a study in 2013 and updated in 2022 that reported “The Gibsons Aquifer can meet water supply demand of 10,000 residents even under extreme climate change predictions.” The 39 permanent George residential condo units and 110 hotel rooms (with seasonal occupancy) will represent a minor addition to the current population of Gibsons of 4,605 residents.

Is the GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort going to build a private marina on public land – land that was designated as park and recreation area?

  • The facts are set out very well in the Town of Gibsons “explainer” that shows that the water lot set aside for public use is not part of the lease agreement.
  • In 2019, KFE submitted an updated request to the Province of BC to amalgamate two existing water lot leases comprising the waterfront of the George site (currently held by George Gibsons Development Ltd., formerly Hyak Marine Services Ltd. and Klaus Fuerniss)  and one lot fronting Winegarden Park (currently held by the Town of Gibsons).
  • If the project’s application is approved, the proposed remediation and development will INCREASE accessibility to the public and EXTEND EXISTING PARKLAND through the remediated area.

So if the GEORGE takes over that water lot and foreshore lease, does that mean the Town is giving up that water lot and foreshore to the developer, for free?

  • No. The George, as lessee, will pay the Town rent, as lessor, for the water lot, will pay the development and remediation costs, and will pay a percentage of profits from the Marina operation to the Town. The previous lease agreement called for the developer to pay the town 15 per cent of “gross revenues from all sources, except fuel sales, collected from the water lot lease area.”  ( see Town of Gibsons “explainer’)
  • Former Mayor Bill Beamish previously noted that if the province grants the new lease that will trigger the public process around disposition of a Town asset. If the province rejects the application for the water lease, the Town will continue to hold it.  But as Mayor Beamish said, “There’s no market value on a B.C. lease. The negotiation relative to the lease, in terms of the [revenue-sharing agreement] is on the side… The lease has no value to us – it cannot be sold.” (Coast Reporter, George water lease bid wins Council support, March 5, 2020)

Will the marina extension require dredging the harbor? Will it spread contaminants or damage the seabed?

  • From time to time, silt buildup in the harbor from tide changes and area creeks does require dredging. Dredging will also be necessary prior to construction of the marina extension to remove any site contaminants identified by Keystone Environmental Ltd. as superficial, consisting of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from dock piles and metals from previous boatbuilding and maintenance on the site. According to the Goyette and Brooks (1998) Sooke Basin study and other follow-up studies, PAHs are found in virtually every dock structure in BC where creosote treated dock piles are in use.
  • The GEORGE project has engaged two environmental companies: Keystone Environmental and Balanced Environmental – to identify the locations and volumes of contamination both on the upland and the foreshore. The contamination locations and volumes have been identified. Currently a number of remediation options are being evaluated, and when the best option has been chosen, an environmental specialist to oversee the remediation process.
  • The remedial work in the water lot to remove the contamination will be done at low tide with appropriate silt curtains and other mitigation measures to prevent sediment, and contamination associated with the sediment, from leaving the work area. Following and decontamination, seabed remediation will improve the aquatic environment fronting the project.

Won’t the dredging damage the aquitard protecting the aquifer? Will it cause a “blowout” of the aquifer?

  • This claim is making the rounds again, circulated by a small group that has spent more than a decade mounting various legal challenges through the so-called “Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community” (GABC) – all of which have failed in court, and the latest of which required the group to pay court costs to the Town and the developer (costs that remain unpaid).
  • To sustain and protect the Gibsons Aquifer, which provides most of the Town’s water supply, the Town contracted Waterline Resources as the lead consultant to conduct an Aquifer Mapping Study as part of a long-term initiative to better understand this vital resource. The program began in 2013 and was most recently updated with a June 7, 2022 presentation to Council which added new drilling location info and environmental layers into the model and simulated several groundwater use scenarios for various pumping conditions from the existing water source well network under present day and climate-affected conditions (i.e. below average precipitation and sea level rise) in order to determine different water use requirements determined by Town staff.
  • Michael Garaghty, M.Sc., P.Geo, PMP of Keystone Environmental Ltd. has carried out numerous studies (all of which are on file with the Ministry) has noted The project has done extensive drilling at the site under the supervision of a qualified professional hydrogeologist and under very strict permit requirements from the Town of Gibsons. The stratigraphy at the site is well known including where the aquifer is and where the aquitard that confines the aquitard is and what it looks like. [The small group ] have done no drilling investigations at the site and therefore can have no first-hand knowledge of the site conditions or its stratigraphy. They are not professionals and lack the knowledge and credentials to provide any opinion other than speculation and gossip. Since the limits of excavation are well above the aquitard containing the aquifer, there will be no blow out from this work, nor would any blow out spread contamination as claimed by [the group] since the aquifer groundwater is not contaminated.

The project will be driving piles into the seabed to support the new pier connecting the moorage facilities. Won’t this breach the aquitard and cause a “blowout” of the aquifer?

  • No. Horizon Engineering Ltd.’s informed and professional opinion is that a well-managed and monitored program of pile installation will not jeopardize the sustainability of the aquifer. The Waterline Resources Aquifer Mapping Study report (prepared for the Town of Gibsons) noted that “Recent development work initiated by the Gibsons Harbour Port Authority in the Gibsons waterfront has included driving steel pilings into the seabed and through the Gibsons Aquifer… Although some indication of freshwater leakage was observed, no major uncontrolled breach of the Gibsons Aquitard was indicated during the pile driving program.”

How will the developer protect the Gibsons aquifer / aquitard during construction of the hotel and residences?

  • Horizon Engineering Ltd. Conducted extensive site analysis to develop best plan and practices for protecting the aquifer during construction and the Town of Gibsons conducted two peer reviews of Horizon’s work (click HERE to read Waterline Resources’ peer review; also click HERE to visit the Town of Gibsons website for links to other studies and reviews). Further engineering analysis will be completed at the “Detailed Design Stage” of the development process and will be monitored by professional consultants and reviewed by the Town prior to any construction.

Won’t the GEORGE  use a lot of resources – energy and water for example – and create a lot of waste during construction and later, when it’s in full operation?

  • Project design and construction following environmental practices will reduce waste and maximize efficiencies with energy saving and water conservation facilities and programs integrated at every level – right down to the drought-resistant landscaping. Once in operation, these programs will be part of the daily hotel operations. The GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort will be the first hotel on the Sunshine Coast to develop and implement a program to reduce its impact on the landfill. And to reduce its carbon footprint even more, the hotel restaurants will be implementing a farm-to-table program that supports our local growers, brewers and cideries.

SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

What public amenities can the community expect from the George?

  • As part of the development agreement with the Town of Gibsons, the developer has or will be providing funding for Gower Point Road upgrades, sewer upgrades, sidewalks and improved amenities for Winegarden Park, as part of realizing the Town of Gibsons Park Advisory Committee’s vision set out in the Winegarden Park Master Plan which has received Council approval. Under the PAC’s plan, the park will receive substantially refreshed landscaping, a re-sited and rebuilt performance area, and adjustments to the stream adjacent to the George project site. Developer funding will be crucial to ensuring this waterfront venue achieves its potential.
  • In 2020, the developer constructed a bridge on his private property linking the Winegarden Park section of the seawalk with the existing walkway leading to Gibsons Marina. This temporary connection will be enlarged and enhanced along the foreshore when the project is completed.
  • The GEORGE  Gibsons Marine Resort will provide 175 new sheltered parking spaces for the public, hotel visitors and condo residents, and a moorage opportunity to bring in a passenger ferry service on a regular basis.

What kind of corporate citizen will The GEORGE  be in our community?

  • For the answer, look to the history of the developer, Klaus Fuerniss. Soon after he “retired” to Gibsons over 25 years ago, Mr. Fuerniss opened one of the first Wendy’s / Tim Hortons dual franchises in BC and immediately began to give back to his new community through in-kind donations and corporate giving programs like Timmy’s “Smile Cookies” fundraiser. Within a year, he launched the restaurant’s annual Festival of Lights, partnering with community schools, sports teams, service clubs, arts and culture groups, environmental and service organizations, and food banks to raise funds and create an increasingly-brilliant seasonal lighting display at the corner of Gibsons Way and Payne Road. Shortly after acquiring Gibsons Marina & Fuel in 2015, Fuerniss oversaw the annual Sea of Light holiday display that lit up the marina with over 50,000 lights, including the Coast’s tallest Christmas “tree” – a seasonal beacon that draws families from the community and raises funds, food and toys for the Salvation Army Holiday of Hope campaign.
  • The GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort will provide yet another venue and more opportunities to give back to the community, through arts and cultural events and retreat and conference gathering spaces where both visitors and the community can engage.

What kind of corporate citizen is the developer?

  • Klaus Fuerniss, principal of Klaus Fuerniss Enterprises (a family-owned business), has lived in Gibsons for over 25 years. A seasoned business professional with an impressive, international track record in hospitality and tourism industry development stretching over four decades, Klaus Fuerniss has a demonstrated commitment of giving back to his community. Through various programs at his Wendy’s/Tim Hortons franchise and Gibsons Marina, KFE has donated over $500,000 in cash and a considerable amount in product to schools, sports teams, cultural groups, service clubs, charities and food banks.
  • Mr. Fuerniss’ extensive industry experience began with classical training in a five-star European hospitality environment, leading to a series of high-profile appointments: Food & Beverage Manager for Fairmont Hotels; General Manager of the Winnipeg Convention Centre; Vice President for Expo 86 in Vancouver; project envisioning and implementation of the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre / Canada Place project; owner of a high-end West Vancouver waterfront restaurant; and owner of ten franchise locations for Wendy’s and Tim Hortons on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver.

Does this project have much community support?

Absolutely Over 1,000 Gibsons residents and businesses were polled and agreed that The GEORGE will provide significant benefits to the community and area.  A selection of their comments:

“We fully appreciate the careful planning and attention to detail that will make this such a tremendous addition to our town. Few towns of our size in BC or Canada have such an opportunity to revitalize, re-energize, and enrich the life of their town. Let us not lose the opportunity and expertise that is being afforded us. Please support this endeavor so that the citizens of Gibsons can benefit from such a project for years to come.”Kathryn and James Patterson, Gibsons residents

“This project is a great opportunity for the whole town of Gibsons and will go a long way in providing the ongoing and ever increasing infrastructure costs, provide jobs to keep our youth on the coast, bring tourists and conventioneers alike, fill up our empty stores and provide year round opportunities for our retail and service industries.”Simon Broomhall, Gibsons resident.

“The GEORGE  is the catalyst our community and region desperately needs. It’s the first step to a better future. The plan to attract visitors to our region in the off-­‐season is what will drive growth for our future. This will be the proverbial ‘shot-­‐in-­‐the-­‐arm’ for our economy. Let’s get on with it!” – Ryan Medd, Gibsons Business owner.

“The natural beauty and surroundings of Gibsons and the Sunshine Coast are truly amazing, but it takes more than that to make a life. Without some significant economic improvement in the near future, more families will leave.” – Lisa McKay, Gibsons resident and business owner.

“The dream of employment, a stable tax base and thriving economy is something that shouldn’t be trifled with as it affects not only merchants, overall economic and the future of our youth here at home. I firmly believe in my lifetime there will not be another opportunity like this for the Sunshine Coast and its residents.” – Rudy Kern, Gibsons resident and business owner.

“Some individuals have stated that the jobs created by this project would be of little value to our town. I strongly disagree. In fact, construction jobs and professional jobs resulting from this project would be significant and should not be undervalued. These are high paying trades and professional jobs that will result in sustainable income for families during that time. The hotel operations jobs are not meaningless low paying jobs. In fact many of these are career-­‐building opportunities. The economic spinoffs present real opportunities not only for the employees of The GEORGE  but for many local businesses and companies that cater to tourism. The fact that this is a marine hotel rings true to our community and our history. We are known as a maritime town but without a maritime hotel or center. Our harbor is a jewel in the rough and a hotel such as The GEORGE  will solidify its future and become the anchor business and attraction for future opportunities.” – Jeff Rhodes, President, Coastal Craft Boats , Gibsons Business owner.

“The GEORGE … meets the highest environmental building standards in Canada. Socially, it will provide stable year-­‐round employment and add to people’s use and enjoyment of our beautiful harbor, while helping many small coastal businesses with spin-­‐off economic benefits. In other words, it will be a positive contributor to sustainable development and quality of life on the coasts. We believe this project will enhance our community and should proceed.” Drs. Brian and Mary Nattrass, Sustainability Partners Inc. Gibsons residents.

“By any measure, the GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort & Residences will be a great place to meet, network, and enjoy a diversity of cultural and social experiences within walking distance of the meeting site.” Jenn Abbott, CEO & Partner, International Conference Services (ICS)

DEVELOPMENT PROCESS UPDATES – 2022

In October 2022, land assessments on the property were initiated. This works requires minor excavation of the site, which is included in the scope of work for both the environmental and geotechnical permits held by the developer. This work includes required archeological assessments.

JANUARY 2023: DECOMMISSIONING OF PIEZOMETERS

Horizon Engineering placed 10 piezometers on the George Development Project to monitor and describe the aquifer in the area. Four piezometers were placed in 2014 and an additional six placed in 2019. Horizon has now concluded its report and will monitor the decommissioning and removal of the piezometers by Mud Bay Drilling in January, 2023.

DESIGN UPDATES: Updates made in 2022 have resulted in the spa and conferences facilities being amalgamated onto one level resulting in a reduction of one storey in height (11′ – 4″) to the Gower Point elevation of the hotel (now 6 storeys) building. A similar update has been made to the underground parking garage reducing the square footage by over 3,000 sf ft. Further information is available on the development page of the gibsons.ca website.

PRELIMINARY TENDERING FOR THE GEORGE PROJECT

The first phase of the George Development Project involves construction of a Marina on the foreshore of the George upland project. As the intent is to involve as many local contractors as possible, the project development team have requested proposals/tenders from Sunshine Coast businesses for the supply and installation of the Marina docks, pier, electrical component, domestic water component, dredging, and the fuel dock. Progress on each component will be posted on the George news page. Inquiries can be sent to: [email protected]

 

For site preparation, and throughout the development process, The GEORGE Gibsons Marine Resort and Residences project is committed to undertaking due diligence, consultation, and will be working directly with First Nations and our consultants, In Situ Archeology.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION regarding the Town of Gibsons, George project development process, and current updates CLICK HERE