Lululemon Athletica Inc. founder Chip Wilson's plans to build an enormous private dock at his oceanside summer retreat could face an obstacle bigger than neighbours rankled by the project.
The chief of the Sechelt Indian Band, which claims the coastline as part of its territory, says it expects to ratify a new dock-management policy with the provincial government in the coming weeks, and Mr. Wilson will have to clear his plans with the band before any construction on the facility – planned to have the same footprint as a mid-sized house – can go ahead.
Citing last year's B.C. Supreme Court decision that extended native land rights, Chief Calvin Craigan said his nation will have jurisdiction over the foreshore of the Sunshine Coast "returned back to us soon," after the provincial government ratifies a reconciliation agreement that includes a new plan to manage any moorage in the Sechelt Peninsula.
"If this fella [Mr. Wilson] is planning on building a dock, he has to approach the Sechelt band because we have a decision-making policy," Mr. Craigan said. "The decision-making policy looks at the environment and does the due diligence of archeology, because we have many values, many interests in all of our foreshore.
"We've been infringed upon for generations and generations, but now we're going to be stepping in, in terms of co-management, and establishing some sort of management regime that's been missing."
That would mean anyone hoping to build on the region's foreshore would have to file a separate application with the band. Mr. Craigan said the process would be similar to that of the province, but would not elaborate on any differences.
Mr. Wilson's plans call for a 2,498 square-foot dock sheltered by two 3,106 square-foot breakwaters off a mansion on Middlepoint Bight, which lies about halfway between Pender Harbour and Sechelt.
The comprehensive proposal stated that during the summer, the dock would house three boats – two seven-metre runabouts and a 14-metre cruiser – and small watercraft such as canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. A caretaker lives on the property and enjoys boating and fishing year round, it added.
The Vancouver billionaire began consulting with the Sunshine Coast Regional District in October, 2013, about the proposal, which is under review by the provincial Ministry of Forestry, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The district has unanimously opposed the application, but planner Lesley-Ann Staats said it has no control over the dock because that portion of the coast has no limits on zoning. Ms. Staats said the district is updating its community plan for the area to include the waterfront.
The district's planning committee has concluded the moorage is too big to be considered private and that "insufficient effort has been made by the proponent to contact adjacent owners who are likely to be affected adversely by the proposal."
In documents on the district's website, neighbours said they were concerned the dock could have negative effects on a meadow of eelgrass and the feeding grounds of the endangered marbled murrelet, a species of auk. They were also worried about the impact on local people who use the area in the summer for kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and swimming.
They also did not like the size of the facility.
Mr. Wilson and his wife, Shannon, were not available for comment on Thursday.
Mr. Wilson's project manager said the Wilsons had made "significant efforts throughout the planning process to design a structure with low visual impact, using harmonious materials and colours and keeping structures as small and as low as possible." After an independently hired biologist identified potential harm to the eelgrass bed, the dock was moved 20 metres, according to the project manager's letter to the district planner.
Members of the public have until Jan. 30 to submit comments to the Ministry of Forestry, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, which could not say when it will make its final decision.