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Victoria, British Columbia, could become home to a world-class paddling center, if Brian Henry, founder of Current Designs, and the City of Victoria can pull it off. Henry has more time for such projects since the creation of the We-no-nah/Current Designs strategic partnership that saw Mike Henderson take over day-to-day operations of CD’s manufacturing division. Henry can now devote himself to Victoria’s Ocean River Sports, the retail operation Henry founded before starting CD. (Henry remains deeply involved with CD, working in R&D, promotions and marketing).
As part of the Ocean River Sport’s operation, Henry has for several years featured a separate waterfront rental shop, allowing paddlers to check out CD kayak and paddle Victoria’s bustling Inner Harbour and beyond. What Henry has in mind this time, however, will put his previous waterfront location to shame. He’s making a proposal to the City of Victoria to jointly develop a full-blown paddlesports center in the heart of the Inner Harbour.
The plan is to renovate an existing federal marine warehouse, making room for the paddlesports center, a workshop, and a new home for Victoria’s 120-member performance paddling club. It sounds like there’s plenty of room for all: Henry says the warehouse itself boasts 20,000 square feet, and then there’s the 10,000-square-foot pier and 3,000-square-foot workshop.
Henry says he believes the paddlesports center could be one of the best in North America, especially with a location like this one. The Inner Harbour offers easy scenic paddling in the heart of the very European city. Paddle out of the harbor, and you’re in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the fjord that separates Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and the southern shores of Vancouver Island. Paddle upstream from the harbor, and there’s a reversing waterfall. If you go, be sure to line up a tour with Henry and paddle up to Barb’s Fish & Chips, surely one of the few places in North America with paddle-up service.
SNEWS® View: This is quite the concept this guy is considering: a private manufacturer/retailer partnering with local government to promote paddlesports and tourism. Now, if Victoria could just clean up its image as a dumper of sewage into otherwise pristine waters, the city might be able to draw paddlers who now otherwise boycott it due to the sewage problem. Henry’s brother and sister retailers to the south and otherwise could also give some thought to working with their governments to promote themselves, their sport, and the clean, green economic development that paddlesports can bring to their communities.