The new floating seaplane terminal sits in place in Victoria's Inner Harbour. The terminal

Inner Harbour upgrades help boost tourism

A number of local companies have been busy over the past few months completing upgrades to the Inner Harbour.

A number of local companies have been busy over the past few months completing upgrades to the Inner Harbour to help boost Victoria’s tourism economy.

Most recently, Harbour Air, in partnership with Kenmore Air, brought in its newest addition — a floating seaplane terminal. The $4-million terminal, designed by Victoria architect Sid Chow, was brought in by tug boat on Saturday, making the roughly 90-kilometre journey from Bamberton where it was constructed.

At 6,200-square-feet and a 13-foot-wide cement dock, the terminal will be used for regular service operations, sightseeing tours and as a Canadian customs checkpoint.

While there’s still lots of work to be done such as electrical work, hydro and moving things from the old facility to the new one, executive vice president of the Harbour Air Group, Randy Wright said the terminal fits in well with the attractions and facilities currently in the Inner Harbour.

“With it being floating, I don’t think there’s anything else in the world like it. The most important thing is first and last impressions. We are a gateway coming into the community,” Wright said.

“The design that was commissioned will match up nicely with the new bridge and what I’ve been hearing from politicians and the business community is that it fits in nicely . . . and offers improved sight lines.”

It is expected to be in operation April 4.

In collaboration with the City of Victoria, Harbour Air will also be constructing a public plaza, which will include bike racks, benches and green space.

Wright said it could be complete as early as next spring and will be a catalyst to start upgrades to the David Foster Harbour Pathway, which spans more than five-kilometres in length from Rock Bay to Ogden Point.

Black Ball Ferry Line’s MV Coho is also back in business.

The company recently finished the construction of a new wharf at its Victoria terminal, which included building a new vehicle loading ramp and covered passenger walkway.

The upgrades were part of phase one of the three-phase Belleville Terminal revitalization program that began in October. The $17.4-million project is being cost-shared between the province, Black Ball and Clipper Navigation Ltd.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the developments show there’s signficiant investment in the Inner Harbour.

“Transportation links are key to moving people out of the region and these two infrastructure developments I think, send a really strong signal that business is booming in Victoria,” said Helps, adding it makes it easier for residents and tourists to get on and off the Island as well.

“There are a lot of places in Canada that are struggling economically and it’s really great to see our capital city booming and all this growth, development and investment downtown and in the region.”