‘Heart of Sidney’: Residents fight to save aging Beacon Wharf

'Heart of Sidney': Residents fight to save aging Beacon Wharf

The fish market on Sidney’s Beacon Wharf has been serving customers for more than 60 years and in Ken Norbury’s family for nearly as long.

“My uncle Don Norbury bought it in 1964 and I bought it from him in 2011,” said Ken, owner of Satellite Fish Company.

The iconic blue market on Sidney’s waterfront and the Pier Bistro beside it, however, have found themselves caught in a potential sea of change. The town says the ageing wharf only has up to eight years left.

“Knowing the wharf is nearing the end of its useful life we want to take the necessary time to plan for its future and gather community input,” said Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith.

A consultant has narrowed that future to two potential options: a new, floating “pontoon” wharf with a private business of some kind and lots of public space, or just letting the current wharf live out its remaining days and then demolish it, which is a considerably cheaper option.

Sidney resident Nicole Bengtsson doesn’t like either of those options and she isn’t alone. Her petition to save the fish market has gained more than 700 signatures.

“The Beacon fish market to some people might just be a building but to a lot of people it’s the heart of Sidney,” she said. She’s suggesting the wharf be renovated rather than replaced or demolished.

“We maintain the character and the original building but we update it to make it safer to make it functional.”

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Not surprisingly, Ken Norbury agrees.

“I think it draws in a lot of visitors that otherwise wouldn’t come here, we have customers come in from Victoria and they spend money in other businesses in Sidney, so I think we’re good for the town,” he said.

The town is still open to feedback and will hear the public out at a November meeting. McNeil-Smith says there’s plenty of time still to get it right.

“Sidney has evolved ever since 1891 with different uses on the waterfront and we’ll come up with something good for the future,” he said.


April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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