Their drummer encouraging them to work hard to the finish, as a team’s paddlers crank their way to victory on the water during finals at the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival in 2018. The 2019 Victoria Dragon Boat Festival will continue as scheduled, despite heavy repairs at Ship Point. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

25th Dragon Boat Festival scheduled as usual despite Ship Point repairs

In 2018, one third of the pier was blocked off to the festival due to safety issues

Ship Point pier is under construction as a $1.8 million repair gets underway.

The City of Victoria and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) awarded Salish Sea Industrial Services the contract for the project, which will see selected timber piling structures from 1949 replaced with new steel pilings.

The repairs come as an intermittent step towards the City of Victoria’s long-term plan for Ship Point, which aims to turn the parking lot area into waterfront plazas and festival piers. Plans for the Ship Point makeover are in the very early stages, but in the meantime safety has become a great concern both for the general public and for large events such as the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival.

READ MORE: Victoria mayor hopes ninth attempt to redesign Ship Point will go through

“This past August a third of Ship Point area was blocked off, so we ran the festival with a large chunk of the pier and ship area unavailable to us,” said Erik Ages, general manager at the Fairway Gorge Paddle Club and the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival.”We ran it successfully and I need to compliment the GVHA, and everyone else for their help. For safety reasons, they could not make part of [the pier] available to us.”

ALSO READ: Transport Canada keeps Victoria’s Inner Harbour in a state of ‘organized chaos’

Ages said that initially they had considered moving the festival to a new location, but instead saw the GVHA go out of its way to make sure everything ran smoothly.

“They were out there building temporary docks so that hundreds of paddles could get around the pier,” Ages said.

This summer will mark the 25th anniversary of the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, so a lot more people are expected to participate.

READ MORE: 24th annual Victoria Dragon Boat Festival hitting the water

“It’s gonna be a big deal recruiting teams internationally, and we anticipate that there will still be some areas of the pier that are compromised, but I’m confident that the GVHA and others will work with us to make it a success, because they really did in 2018,” Ages said.

Repairs are scheduled to run until March 2019, but part of the pier may still remain blocked off for the festival in the summer.

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