Fundraising campaign launched to rebuild White Rock’s iconic pier

‘Friends of the Pier’ will seek to raise $2 million for construction project

A community-based fundraising committee has announced plans to raise $2 million to help rebuild the City of White Rock’s iconic pier.

The ‘Friends of the Pier’ fundraising committee held a campaign launch press conference at Memorial Park, at the city’s waterfront, Thursday where chair Bob Bezubiak announced that the group will fund the project’s shortfall.

And helping fundraising efforts get off to a solid start will be contibutions of some $90,000 in donations from Landmark Premiere Properties and Bezubiak’s employers, TD Bank.

The city’s waterfront pier was partially destroyed after a violent windstorm Dec. 20.

Flanked by Miss White Rock Snover Gill and fellow Youth Ambassadors Sabrina Zeng and Emma-Rose Harvey – who, with other Youth Ambassadors, were involved in the first initiative to start a GoFundMe campaign, within hours of the storm, to help fund repairs – Bezubiak said the question he is always asked about the Friends of the Pier project is “why fundraise?”

He explained to the crowd of about 100 people at the event that city insurance will only pay for repairs to the damaged part of the pier. Because these must meet current building code and environmental standards, they will ultimately force the city to upgrade the entire pier to meet the same standards, he said.

“The estimated cost of rebuilding and replacing the 104-year-old pier is about $16.2 million, but even with insurance, potential contributions from other levels of government, and dipping into the city’s reserves, there is an estimated shortfall of about $2 million,” Bezubiak said.

“One option would be for the City of White Rock to borrow the money, but we believe a better option is for all of us who are friends of the pier, and every generation that has enjoyed the pier over the years, to lend a hand and help out as a community.”

The committee is co-ordinating a number of fundraising activities and will accept donations through Semiahmoo Rotary, which can issue charitable tax receipts.

One of the principal fundraising efforts for the campaign will be selling a total of 1,300 wooden planks for the new pier for $1,000 each, committee member Norman Stowe, of Landmark Premier Properties, said, adding that his company would buy the first 50.

Further contributions, from TD Bank, revealed by Bezubiak and BIA president Alex Nixon, included a $20,000 donation, via Semiahmoo Rotary, and another $20,000 toward the Concerts at the Pier series (now re-christened Concerts for the Pier) which returns this year starting July 4, and which will also raise money for the fund.

Other initiatives planned include recruiting sponsors for the pier’s 16 decorative arches; planning a 200-person dinner featuring celebrity chefs Matt Stowe and Vikram Vij at Oceana PARC; selling ‘Friends of the Pier’ commemorative T-shirts; hosting a summer-long ‘buy-a-beer-for-the-pier’ promotion at waterfront pubs and restaurants and during TD Concerts for the Pier; and commissioning local artists to turn 30 damaged pier planks into works of art for auction at the Landmark Uptown Gallery this fall.

In addition, individual donations can be made directly to www.friendsofthepier.com, which also lists details of community fundraising events.

Bezubiak said that every dollar raised by the campaign will go directly to the pier, as the administrative and overhead costs are “completely covered.”

“This is a real chance for all of us to pay it forward for every stroll and every picture ever taken on the pier,” Bezubiak said, encouraging other businesses and organizations to get involved and provide their own fundraising suggestions.

“We have a lot of work to do, but there’s tremendous community support and people want to pitch in and make a difference. Just imagine being able to tell your kids and grandkids that you helped rebuild the new pier. This is all about community and what we can do together for our city and generations to come.”

Among those speaking at the event were Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell, who said the white rock has ancient significance in their culture and that the SFN consider the pier a sister feature, even though it belongs to more recent history.

Other speakers included Ritu Khanna, executive director of the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce, and White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker.

Walker said the city has awarded the initial contract to repair the broken portion of the pier for close to $3 million and that it should be open to pedestrian traffic again by the end of August.

Walker added that all the partners are committed to making the pier “better than ever.”

“Our community and region are famous for working together to help out, and I want to thank the Friends of the Pier and all those who will step up and help us rebuild our pier over the next couple of years. It’s a chance for all of us to work together as we rebuild the pier, something that means so much to all of us,” he said.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child – it takes more than a village to repair a pier,” Walker added, noting the initial boost provided by Landmark and TD Bank, and the interest it indicates throughout the whole region.

“I know there will be more,” he said. “This is our pier, this is your pier and it will open again in no time at all.”

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