Reef-balls attract Ralmax's interest

Judy Reimche/Peninsula News Review

Ian Maxwell stands among reef balls he envisions his company using in future marine projects.

By Judy Reimche

Peninsula News Review

Sep 28 2005

THE PENINSULA Sometimes the best ideas are already out there.

"Why re-invent something that's successful?" asked Ian Maxwell, owner of Ralmax Developments Ltd. on Bay Street.

His remarks referred to the successful reef ball project at the Bevan Pier in Sidney. When Reg Teeney and John Bell, in cooperation with the Town of Sidney, planned the new fishing pier, they commissioned the placement of reef balls along its perimeter to rejuvenate the sea life near the shore.

The project was so immediately successful that, in 1998, it was named the best such project in the world by the international Reef Ball Organization.

Maxwell said he's been watching Sidney's project with interest since 1997 and is now contemplating using reef balls on all three of his industrial sites.

"It looked like a good project for us. I own three pieces of waterfront - I want to enhance that environment somehow," he said.

"Because we're industry, people assume we're bad for the environment. I think we've done a good job of cleaning up our properties. The Veins of Life Watershed group has done good work along Victoria's waterfront, and there is a neighbourhood group that has worked with us, too. We want to build on that."

Maxwell's Ralmax Development Ltd. operations include industrial sites at South Bay, Port Hope and Ellice Point. Along with the gravel extraction business on Bay Street, it operates Ellice Recycle Ltd., Dispose All Recycling Ltd., Eco Pro Systems Ltd. and Point Hope Maritime. Each of these industries is involved with either vessel repair and refit, recycling of industrial by-products or container rentals and trucking.

It's not just waterfront cleanup that attracts Maxwell. Sitting in his Bay Street office, surrounded by paintings depicting a more country lifestyle, he also talked about his other interest. Since he was a boy, he has been going to Alberta in May and October to work as a cowboy.

"I've always liked being outdoors, and that's a good, healthy lifestyle," he said of his days in the saddle, working with animals.

May and October are times when cattle are moved from summer to winter ranges and back again, and when calves are branded. Many ranches hire extra hands to help with these more labour-intensive duties. Whether it's land or sea, the feeling of connection to the environment is key to Maxwell.

"We're trying to add our little piece to it," he said, with a shrug. "We're stewards of quite a bit of waterfront. I think we're pretty good for the environment, working within our limitations."

So when he saw what people in Sidney were doing in 1997, he hired a consultant to look into it. The consultant talked to Teeney, but not much more happened. Now that Sidney's project has an eight-year track record to look back on, Maxwell feels it's time to move ahead with a project of his own.

"I thought that was brilliant, what they did," he said of Sidney's project, which has included scuba divers and researchers to monitor the return of the sea life, and the quality of that environment.

"What Reg and you guys (in Sidney) have accomplished is so cool, tying it all together."

Any diving groups or marine researchers who would like to be affiliated with the projects can call Maxwell at 386-9411.

Copyright 2005 Victoria News