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Maritime supporters rally for waterfront museum

Supporters of the B.C. Maritime Museum met at the lawn of the legislature Tuesday to show their support for its bid to fill the CPR Steamship Terminal.

"We're just trying to send the message that we're still strong believers that this is the best use of this public facility," said museum president Jamie Webb.

The terminal used to house the Royal London Wax Museum until being shut for seismic upgrading.

Now, six candidates are bidding to lease the space, once the renovations are complete this fall.

The B.C. Maritime Museum is currently located in Bastion Square, but its building is too small and not suitable for the exhibits.

A move to the Inner Harbour would bring more tourist traffic and better suit its seafaring theme. It would also open up new revenue streams, added Webb, listing food and beverage, public performances, and a gift shop.

The museum's board estimates it would cost $5 million to set up shop at the CPR Steamship Terminal. As for rent payments, it "does not expect to pay the same rate that would be charged for a Granville and Georgia type of location as it is offering a huge social and economic benefit to the city," according to board communications.

Webb said major donors have expressed willingness to contribute if the museum wins the lease. But, he added, "it's hard to get support on something intangible, which is what's it's been up until now."

Webb's was one of three lease applications rejected in April. Since then, he's characterized communication with the building's manager, the Provincial Capital Commission, as "resounding silence."

Also applying for the space are pub owner Matt MacNeil and Bob Wright of the Oak Bay Marine Group.

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