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Ongoing wharf construction is bittersweet for Murray River fishermen, business

Construction workers pick away at the Murray River harbour on March 31.
Construction workers pick away at the Murray River harbour on March 31. - Daniel Brown/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
MURRAY RIVER, P.E.I. —

Nathan Irving is glad his community's wharf is being fixed.

"It needed to be done over," he said.

But some unexpected changes throughout the construction process have added to his list of "what-ifs" for how his seafood and river tour business, Captain Nate's, may be impacted this summer.

Construction on the wharf started in the fall. Robert Acorn, president of the community's harbour authority, said the roughly 200-foot wooden structure was decaying to the point it became a concern.

"It wasn't safe to be on, to be honest," he said.

"We, as the fishermen, just wanted the existing wharf to be fixed."

Construction workers pick away at the Murray River harbour on March 31. - Daniel Brown
Construction workers pick away at the Murray River harbour on March 31. - Daniel Brown

While Acorn and Irving aren't opposed to the ugrade, as it will likely ensure the structure lasts longer, they are worried its delayed construction and shortened length may hinder their community's growth.

The rigid wharf portion of the construction is nearing completion under the federal Small Craft Harbours program, said an email The Guardian recently recieved from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

"The rock slope section of the wharf is in progress and is anticipated to be completed this spring," the email said.

"As for the electrical system and paving, completion is anticipated for this summer."

According to Acorn, the project was intended to be completed by March. The original construction plans also had the wharf being reduced to about 100 feet in length, but that has since changed.

"Now, we only have about 70 feet of wharf," he said.

"We're losing space."

This may be due to the decision to construct a 30-foot rock barrier between the parking area and the river. Normally, about 20 boats would dock directly to the wharf each summer, but they'll now have to be accessed via a floating dock beside it.

"We should be able to put the same amount of boats there," Acorn said.

"But, as far as vehicles, we're not going to have near the parking area."

Construction is underway at the Murray River wharf. - Daniel Brown
Construction is underway at the Murray River wharf. - Daniel Brown

Less room for vehicles will impact Irving, whose business was formerly known as How Boat This. He would typically park his trailer on the wharf to sell his product from, but now there will be less room for both businesses and potential customers.

"It's going to get that much more crowded," Irving said.

"I'm really disappointed in that."

Irving started his business in Murray River with hopes of helping to revitalize the community. He wishes the wharf could have been expanded to help foster growth in the community, he said.
But both men are hopeful the upgrades will pay off amidst the uncertainty ahead.

"Everybody works together here pretty good," Acorn said.


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