Former quarry now closer to being British Columbia’s first wave pool
Canada’s first west coast wave pool project has passed its initial reading at a Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board meeting. While this is only the first hurdle, it’s a vital step towards the realization of a pool and associated residential development.
The site is an ocean-front disused quarry in South Britannia Beach, 45 minutes north of Vancouver, near the halfway point to Whistler. The development, named Tiger Bay, is set to be home to a Wavegarden Cove facility.
“Our surf park design is the same size as Urbnsurf in Melbourne,” says Long Cheng, Tiger Bay Development Corp’s General Manager, “And our phase 1 will include a full-size surf park, 20 cabins, brewery, and possibly a pump track and skateboard park.”
While Vancouver is the warmest place in Canada and is undeniably beautiful, it does fall short in wave offerings. The closest surf options for locals are to drive across the border to the U.S State of Washington, or catch a ferry or seaplane to Vancouver Island, then head over to the west coast. Both are great options, but time consuming and expensive.
“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds … of people emailing us their thoughts, and I’d say that probably 95 percent of them are just pure excitement to see a surf park built in the area,” said Tiger Bay’s head of development Tony Petricevic. “The beauty of having a surf park on the mainland is rather than going surfing a few times a year, you’d [be able to] go a few times in a week. So your surfing will get much better so that when you do go out and experience decent natural waves, you will be that much better,” Petricevic added, as reported in the Pique News Magazine.
Since the SLRD last heard about the project in June 2021, the developers have increased affordable housing units from 50 to 150 (of the 1050 total) and will upscale their commitment to energy-efficient building requirements and won’t be using natural gas as an energy source.
In addition to the surf park, there’s a multi-phased project – post-surf park construction – with a 2-decade timeline set to include 1050 units, tourist accommodations, commercial spaces, childcare, a school and/or community center plus a transit hub.
The surf tank is the main attraction and this project follows a pattern set by many of the larger surf park developments: Build the wave pool first and then follow up with housing.
Details of the appearance and construction of the 150 affordable housing units will be addressed in a housing agreement before Phase 2 of the project – the first phase of residential development – explained by planning consultant Eric Vance in a presentation to the board.
“The reason we’re holding off on doing [the housing agreement] is that needs are going to change over time,” he told the board. “By the time [Tiger Bay] gets to the residential phase at South Britannia – it’s going to be several years out – programs will change, funding sources, needs and so on. To come out with a detailed housing agreement at this point is just too speculative,” reports Pique News Magazine.
For the next set of assessments, regarding natural hazards, officials aren’t anticipating anything that will raise red flags. Once completed, hopefully in the next four months, a second reading will follow. After that, will be a public hearing.
“Looking at those time frames, if we could get to [the] second reading by June, that would be fantastic, and to get to the … public hearing by August would be amazing,” Tony added.
Continuing, Tony confirmed “We’ll also increase our communications to inform the public of the components and vision of the project. This will include a public open house. And breaking ground for the wave pool is expected this year, with potential opening late 2024.”
A 5.2-hectare parcel of oceanfront land, part of Tiger Bay’s holdings, will be used as a public park, as part of their commitment to set aside 43% of the property for green space.