Looking down the gangway towards several wharves with boats tied up to them

Gorge Harbour Marina Undergoing Renovations

Gorge Harbour Marina is undergoing extensive renovations this year. The general store, marina and gas pump is open, but much of the resort is expected to remain closed until 2024.

General Manager Jason Johnson explained, “We had a fairly successful last season and then became even more aware  of some major infrastructure issues needing to be addressed. It wasn’t just a matter of ‘it’s a septic issue,’ or ‘it’s a water issue,’ or ‘it’s an electric issue” – it’s all of it. We are having to take a look at some major infrastructure at the Gorge with the understanding that the property has a lot of age behind it. So we really need to take a look at that and press the pause button.”

Image: Jason Johnson, General Manager of Qathen Xwegus Management Corporation (QXMC)

JJ: “We’re fortunate to have a buyer like Klahoose that has motivations past a return on investment – they want to see these properties benefit the community for generations to come. So, the decisions to restrict operations is a tough one. It’s a tough one for QXMC, it’s a tough one for Klahoose and it’s certainly a tough one for the community who depend on some of the amenities at the property.”

“As time goes on, we’ll have more data and can speak more intelligently regarding a final operating plan.” 

“The FloatHouse Restaurant is under permanent closure. We had our structural engineers go through that building, and it was determined that the building just wasn’t structurally sound. We can’t invest further into that building. That is a giant blow for all of us. The FloatHouse was the only full service operating restaurant on Cortes. There are other providers, but … it’s a blow to the community. It is permanently closed now, and we are exploring other food and beverage options for the future.”

“We plan to have the store open. It’s an important amenity for the area and residences, so we are working to make sure it can stay open. We are planning to have the marina stay open with some subtle changes.”

“There are going to be disruptions in both cases as we explore water, power, and septic.”

“Once we get the go ahead for water, the water will be available to people moored with us. But in order to offer a resource past that, you have to have it available and we’re not sure we have that. So unfortunately, we just can’t extend that to folks at the marina that are not moored with us at the time.

CC: What about the gas pump?  

JJ: “So again, very important for the community as well as internally. I don’t think you’d classify that gas pump as an antique, but it’s close, and it is becoming impossible to get parts.  A pump like that is in the neighborhood of $55,000 to $60,000 to replace. We are moving forward on that.” 

“I do not have dates yet on when that’s going to take place, but we will certainly alert the community when we have to do closures to get that work done. We are also working closely with the Squirrel Cove store to alert them and keep them current so that Cortes does not go without gas services for any period of time.”   

CC: What about the RV Park and campground? 

JJ: “We have phoned our valuable guests and gave them the bad news about the RV and campgrounds this year.”  

“We are just determining our other accommodations on site, being the cottage and the lodge rooms. We’re hoping that we can have those open.”

CC: What about the music program? 

JJ: “We’ve had to take a look at that with the understanding that this program is incredibly important for the community of Cortes, the guests that stay with us and it’s just a great time to meet local artists  and hear some great music. That’s a program that costs us around $40,000 a year to produce and really does need to be offset by RV traffic. One of  the hardest things that we had to do as part of taking a look at our 2023 operations is phone these incredible artists and let them know that we have to postpone the program. We are exploring the idea of bringing that back in a big way, a big splash, for 2024.”

“The other one that’s on the community’s mind right now is the laundromat. We understand  that is the only facility on the island, to my knowledge anyway. That said, the machines in the laundromat need some attention and again, it’s all contingent on water and capacity. Do we have the water right now? From a business perspective, the laundromat does not pay for itself, but it is important for the community.  We are trying very hard to keep that one open, but it’s contingent on what we find for capacity studies for water.”

“It’s in nobody’s interest to stay closed longer than we have to and we are certainly endeavoring to open back up in a fulsome way as soon as possible.” 

“We’re looking at repairs needed for basically all of our linear infrastructure.  We need to understand the capacity and flow rate data for septic and water.”  

“That in itself is sizable and while you’re in the ground, it only makes sense to do some other things. For example: if you need to take a look at linear water and septic, you might as well see if your campground is actually laid out properly for today’s discerning guests. Is there enough power? Is there enough water? Does anything else need to be explored? It only makes sense to do it at the same time.” 

“There’s some well work needed, and that’s major.  We need to understand what those wells are producing. We are working with an engineering firm to help us solve those questions and together with regulatory bodies.”

“All that information goes to our board of directors for decisions and approvals. Ideally, we’d like to get all the work done for the 2024 season but like anything else, plans with good intentions are based on contractors, approvals, permits, all of these things. But for clarity, when we do repairs, they will be done right. I would have it no other way.” 

Top image credit: Looking down the gangway to Gorge Harbour Marina – Photo courtesy Gorge Harbour Marina

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