As Prince Rupert celebrates it's 100th anniversary, we now at long last, finally hear of some progress on the Watson Island situation, as a new development seems set to take root in the long since dormant site.
Pulp and Paper production, clearly has had its day on the island and as has been noted recently in the media, the six previously accepted bids for development seemingly have been turned down, leaving many to wonder what is next. As things turn out, there may have been a very good reason as to the silence on the issue.
Rupertites will soon learn that all these delays were worth it, as plans have been put into works to apparently turn the industrial site into a Barkerville like development, as a tribute to the city's long held champion, Charles Hays. In what can only be described as an ambitious project, what once was the scene of some of the dirtiest of heavy industry, will soon be home to an environmentally friendly multi faceted destination spot, featuring much in the way of charting the path of the city laid out by Hays before his untimely death on the Titanic.
In effect, we'll have a replica town site of what Prince Rupert could have been from the eyes of Mr. Hays.
Leases are in the works for a variety of tourist oriented activities for the site, including a theatre, restaurants and boutiques and a replica town site of Prince Rupert from those very early days of development and a small amusement park featuring period piece rides through the decades.
Famous Rupertties of the past will be featured as named pavilions, with such luminaries as Pattullo and Lester considered the most popular of names for the structures. Focus groups were conducted over the last three months to examine the plan. The results of that study have found that financially, the project could recoup much of the lost tax revenue over the last few years, as tourists are expected to flock to the site upon its completion, apparently willingly ready to pay the fifteen dollar a head gate fee to wander what should be a most impressive display of British Columbia's North coast history. It's hoped that the Cruise ship lines that regularly visit the city will be among the first to sign on for package deals once the gates open, expected for this time next year.
Only British Columbia products will be utilized in the construction phase of the project, much of the wood to be claimed from local forests, for use on the buildings and boardwalks that in some parts of the planned park will match up with those from the turn of the last century.
Outside interests that lease out the on-site spaces will be required to sign an agreement ensuring that local contractors and residents have first claim of opportunity for employment and service tenders for supplies both pre and post construction.
Likely names for the theme park are rumoured to be a toss up between Haystown or Charles Hays Village, logos featuring Charles Hays dressed in a top coat and bowler hat and making a welcoming bow have been designed for the anticipated launch of the project during Prince Rupert's Homecoming in May.
Striving to lead Prince Rupert out of the recession, park developers are adamant in their declaration that only a fool would think that this kind of project has no future. Tourism they say is the one key element on the North coast that still remains untapped, they're hoping that this future of Watson Island brings much mirth to locals and visitors alike.