City eye revitalization plan for Inner Harbour area

Study suggests changes for Ship Point, Belleville Terminal, Lower Wharf Street

Take a glimpse into the future.

As you take a stroll along the Inner Harbour, you stop at the amphitheatre at Ship Point and take in a show of local entertainers. Walking further along, you purchase some fast food from a local food kiosk vendor and take in the view of MV Coho and the Clipper moored side by side at Belleville Terminal.

It’s a dream the City of Victoria hopes isn’t too far-fetched as it envisions a new plan to revitalize the Inner Harbour.

The city released the draft report Harbour Vitality Principles 2014, which conceptualizes what the Inner Harbour could look like at three specific locations:  Belleville Terminal, Lower Wharf Street and Ship Point in the years ahead.

The report follows extensive public consultations where the public and other harbour stakeholders were asked for input.

Among the findings of the report:

The Belleville Terminal – Valued as a key transportation hub.

Completion of a waterfront pathway connecting the terminal to the Inner Harbour, more green space, combining the MV Coho and Clipper ferry terminal with a rooftop park and  widened sidewalks, plazas and public outlooks were looked at as beneficial options for the area.

Ship Point – Special event site.

With its location in the heart of downtown and along the Inner Harbour, the site is ideal for community gatherings.

The best use of the space was for a permanent, weather-protected site for small to large scale events, more green space and seating areas, an amphitheatre and a covered parking lot.

“The most common improvement the public would like to see made is the reduction of space currently allocated to parking,” the report said.

Lower Wharf Street – Downtown location and marine-related activities are highly valued attributes of this site.

The report, through public input, suggests eliminating parking completely. Improving the public walkway and adding more services such as cafes, food kiosks and a space for informal gatherings.

The purpose of the report is to provide a “renewed vision and strategic direction” that will help to better position the City of Victoria and other Inner Harbour landowners for potential capital funding, grants and development opportunities as they arise, said the city communications department in an email to the News.

So far, the report has received favourable reviews.

Curtis Grad, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, says the city has taken positive steps forward with its conceptual plan.

“Ultimately, (the harbour authority) is keen to see consensus around a plan that embraces the land-water connection and preserves the continued diversity of commercial activities that make our harbour vibrant and compelling,” he said.

The city plan more public consultation over the summer, with the final report presented to council in September.

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