Tofino Ice House

Location / Tofino
Project Type / Restoration, Renovation, New Construction

The Tofino Fish Pier was built in the 1962 at the edge of Tofino’s picturesque downtown harbour, and was originally used as shrimp and salmon processing facility for the Tofino Packing Company. It was just one of many structures of this nature built along the coast of Vancouver Island and the coastal mainland. Today there are a relatively few of these pier structures remaining, and the majority of those that do still exist are in states of disrepair. Over the last six decades  the pier underwent several renovations and expansions, including the addition of a large ice factory at the head of the pier used to fill the storage holds of deep-sea fishing trollers that operated along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Today, the Tofino Fish Pier is one of the few remaining purpose-built icehouse structures of its kind and the last remaining in Tofino – a relic of the abundant marine industrial heritage structures that once dotted the coastal waters of British Columbia. 

Working with structural and marine consultants – Hugh Tuttle Engineering and Herold Engineering, respectively, the team undertook a comprehensive process of structural investigation and analysis, and subsequently executed a substantial $3M+ structural restoration project.

The team implemented an innovative technology to document and study the existing structure, implementing a hybrid approach of LiDAR scanning and digital 3D modeling. The construction of a high fidelity virtual digital model of the unique timber structure allowed the team to explore and test rehabilitation scenarios with the integrated  team of architects, engineers and building code consultants.

The future vision for Tofino Ice House Pier is one that not only preserves the architectural qualities of industrial marine heritage building but transforms its function and relationship to surrounding community by establishing long-term partnerships with local Indigenous start-ups and non-profit organizations. The task now is to create a “blank-slate” future-ready development built on collaboration with Indigenous community members to foster flexibility within the pier’s unique industrial spaces. The vision is to repurposing a colonialist historical landmark in Tofino – and do it in a manner that acknowledges the thousands of years of living history found in the region, creating a space for indigenous enterprise in Tofino.

The Ice House Pier project continues to invite open dialogue and discussion with leaders and local community members of Nuu-chah-Nulth Nations, non-profit organizations, and Indigenous entrepreneurs eager to provide input on what they feel is needed for them in this space. Our goal is to leverage the former functions of this old industrial building and repurpose it for something altogether new.