The Belleville Ferry Terminal is going to look a lot different over the next few years after the province and two local companies announced a $17.4-million investment to upgrade the facility Thursday.
The project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Black Ball Ferry Line and Clipper Navigation Ltd., who will share the cost of upgrades.
“It’s critical this important piece of transportation infrastructure is upgraded, starting with the safety improvements to the Black Ball wharves,” said Todd Stone, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “It is a critical component of our Pacific Gateway and a key entry point not just into Victoria, but British Columbia and indeed Canada.”
The improvements will occur in three phases, the first is much-needed repairs to the Black Ball and Clipper wharves by replacing the current deteriorating wood piles with steel piles.
“Everybody knew they were on their last legs and knew they had to be renewed,” said Ryan Burles, president and COO of Black Ball Ferry Line.
Construction on the Black Ball wharf is scheduled to begin in October and is expected to be completed in two years, while repairs to the Clipper wharf will take place in the winter for roughly a year.
The next phase is to improve access to the site and the final phase includes the development of a terminal facility.
There is currently no definitive timeline for the last two phases.
Discussions are also underway for the province to establish long-term leases with the companies.
“For 29 years, we’ve been hoping for a permanent home in the Inner Harbour. This is possibly the most exciting day that we’ve had,” said Merideth Tall, president and CEO of Clipper Navigation.
In addition, the City of Victoria has invested a minimum of $1 million to improvements to the David Foster Harbour Pathway the runs from Rock Bay to Odgen Point, which will coincide with the redevelopment of the terminal.
“Right now, if you look out on Belleville Street — it’s fine, but not gorgeous,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“It’s not just the people arriving from the water, it’s people arriving from the road. So we wanted to look at how can we best leverage our assets that we have, the money that the city has to make the improvements along Belleville Street so that’s also a welcoming experience.”
The terminal supports ferry services between downtown Victoria and U.S. destinations, which bring an estimated $200-300 million in goods annually.