This story just broke and, as an avid kiteboarder I feel compelled to protest. This is the letter I am drafting in response:
Dear Residents of Port Alberni,
I’d feel compelled to respond to the recent story about the ban on kiteboarding at Centennial Pier. I live and work in Comox, and about once a week all summer long I come down to Port Alberni to kiteboard at the pier. I realize the site was not constructed specifically for kiteboarding, and so I am always very careful to avoid endangering anyone around me. While on the water I keep in mind that I am a guest, and do my best not to interfere with the boat traffic. More often than not I am not visiting alone, and my friends think and act in a similar fashion.
We are shocked and disappointed by what appears to be a unilateral decision made without any consultation with the community designated “at risk” here. The economic benefit to your town is real! My friends and I often go for dinner at your local restaurants, and buy gas or groceries at your stores. Sometime we bring our “non kiter” families with us, and while we are on the water they hang out at the public Quay and spend money.
Furthermore, haven’t you seen the crowds that gather to watch us? They spend money as well! We are your latest tourist attraction, and we came to you free of charge!
Will you allow this essentially free revenue stream to be chopped off without consideration?
It appears the fundamental element the Port Authority is concerned about is the danger involved in jumping off the pier. I don’t believe that this is as dangerous as it is made out to be, but I believe this problem can be addressed simply by requiring kiteboarders to launch from the leeward edge of the pier, where the wind will quickly take us away from the danger zone. A simple sign saying “kiteboarders must launch here” might suffice.
As the site grows in popularity the next step may be to add a jet ski support and rescue service, and I would be to pay an annual membership to support the costs.
We hope you will support us in our quest to reverse this ill considered decision.
Brian Muir, P.Eng.