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Number of terminals along Victoria harbour questioned by new CEO

Victoria harbour hosts seven active terminals, leaving the new head of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority scratching his head.

The JFK airport is the only example that comes close, said CEO Curtis Grad. It gives the sense there's no plan in place, he added.

Grad stepped up to the position seven weeks ago the same day protesters voiced opposition to an upcoming visit by the Esmeralda, a Chilean navy ship with a black history of torture.

The timing was, in a way, a trial by fire. It's also a realistic dose of what's likely in store for Grad.

He steps into a position responsible for juggling diverse interest groups – some of which have been antagonistic toward the aims of the GVHA. Float home owners  complain of being priced out of Fisherman's Wharf by a mandate to bring moorage in line with market rates. The James Bay Neighbourhood Association is critical of growth of the cruise ship industry, which comprises the harbour authority's biggest source of revenue.

Grad has also inherited plans for a major overhaul of Ogden Point. Former executive director Paul Servos launched the master plan shortly before quitting suddenly last August.

It calls for examining commercial and public-amenity opportunities on the 12-hectare site, which currently houses large tracts of vehicle storage, among other things.

Grad will now take some time to have a "good look" at the plan, which outlines what the site is capable of accommodating. The next step, he said, is to analyze what the market calls for and what the community wants, and then proceed to Victoria city council for rezoning in about 18 months.

Equipped with a background in airport transportation management, Grad has set his sights on consolidating the two cruise-ship terminals at Ogden Point.

It's an idea which promises to make operations more efficient and open up land for other purposes.

But his vision doesn't end at Ogden Point.

Victoria harbour also includes two float-plane terminals, two ferry terminals, and one helicopter terminal. Grad plans to launch talks with operators and customers to see where there is room for some consolidation.

"At this point I'm proposing we talk with everybody that's involved in those seven or eight terminals to see if we can start combining our efforts and our resources. I think that there's room for consolidation. Seven terminals - that's a lot."

It's an idea Randy Wright of Harbour Air is already moving on. He recently released plans for a floating terminal shared with Kenmore AIr.

The president of Black Ball Ferry Line has also long advocated consolidating his M.V. Coho terminal with that of the Clipper next door. Consolidation would make it easier for the public, and would prevent customs agents from having to walk back and forth between both facilities, said president Ryan Burles.

The two terminals, however, are located on land controlled by the Provincial Capital Commission, not the harbour authority.

"That's one of the issues," said Burles. "Different people control different lands, and how you make it work, it seems there are more hurdles than there should be."

Whether Grad could influence the province to act, Burles offers "Maybe he could."

"People speak highly of him, so I'm looking forward to hearing more about his ideas."

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