Two of the last remaining shops serving the marine industry are leaving James Bay, marking yet another nail in the coffin for a once-thriving fishing industry at Fisherman’s Wharf.
After 37 years of business on Erie Street, Victoria Marine Electric closed its location Sept. 29 and reopened on Sumas Street in the Burnside Gorge area.
“We probably should have moved 10 years ago,” said Rod McDonald. “We’re moving to the other side of Victoria so our customers don’t have to drive all the way through Victoria to get to us.”
The business does wiring, plumbing and repairs for boats. These days, its main clients are the navy and boat owners from Sidney harbour.
Also on the move is Trotac Marine, at 85 Dallas Rd., which supplies the commercial fishing fleet and other marine industry with fishing gear and other hardware.
The business, which celebrated its 39th anniversary Friday, plans to move to 370 Gorge Rd. East, only two blocks from Victoria Marine Electric’s new location.
“We’ll be neighbours again (though) not by design,” said owner Campbell Thomson.
Thomson took over the business from his father, and is now training his kids.
His reasons for moving are similar to McDonald’s.
“We’re here because of Fisherman’s Wharf, which held at one time 250 commercial fish boats,” said Thomson. “That landscape has all changed.”
Moorage rate hikes at Fisherman’s Wharf caused many fish boats to move to Sidney, he said.
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which also controls the property upon which his building sits, has raised his rent by 400 per cent since taking over from the federal government.
He also can’t secure a long-term lease from the authority. For all these reasons, it’s time to leave, he said. He aims to make the move in early December.