White Rock's iconic pier has officially reopened after it was cut in half in a severe storm last winter.

Hundreds of people gathered along the promenade Saturday afternoon for a reopening ceremony. People of all ages counted down in unison as the Mayor cut a blue ribbon to mark the occasion. It’s a celebration nine months in the making.

“At first, people wanted to come down and see the damage. Then it’s like, well there’s no reason to go to White Rock, there’s no pier,” said Jan Wait, owner of Jan’s on the Beach restaurant.

On Dec. 20, 2018, massive waves swallowed a large section of the pier – and subsequently, the local economy.

“It was a huge decline for customers when the pier was closed. When the pier reopened it was like night and day, it was double,” said Joel Villanueva, owner of Primo’s Mexican Grill, across from the pier.

The White Rock landmark reopened early and under budget Aug. 27. There were $4.3 million in repairs and upgrades. The city, province, and community fundraisers covered costs insurance wouldn’t pay for.

“Business has really picked up since the pier reopened and having a grand opening is great,” said Wait.

The new section has been built to withstand severe storms and even an earthquake.

“The pilings are now steel pilings. The cement cross pieces are making it stronger than ever,” said Darryl Walker, mayor of White Rock.

Those who frequent the promenade are grateful to return to their favourite walking spot.

“This space means a lot to me, I come here every weekend,” said Breanna Ratzlaff.

“There’s been a piece of White Rock missing for a long time, I think, as a result of it. So it’s great to have it back,” said Tony Baena, a White Rock business owner.

The pier is going to be closed again for a second phase of upgrades, but that won’t happen until more funding is secured. That project is expected to cost more than $11 million.