— Pamela Roth
It's not a done deal, but the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) is working through final details that would bring a passenger-only ferry service for those wanting to travel directly to Vancouver harbour.
Last June, GVHA president Ian Robertson was contacted by Australian ferry operator, Riverside Marine, about finding a place to dock in the Inner Harbour. Robertson suggested the Steamship Terminal as a possible location.
When discussions closed with the provincial government a few weeks ago on potentially housing the Maritime Museum of B.C. at the location, Robertson looked at the other individuals that had expressed interest in the space.
Riverside Marine was interested in the top level and Ocean Networks Canada was interested in the bottom. The new tenants should be confirmed within the next couple of months.
“We're optimistic we can get something done,” said Robertson, who hopes Riverside Marine will be successful with its operations, should they move into the space.
A harbour-to-harbour fast-speed ferry service was tried in the early 1990s when Royal Sealink Express ran catamarans between the two cities. The service, however, was eventually halted due to low ridership and seasickness among passengers.
“What I think makes this different is that they've done this before. They are doing this right now in Australia, they are leaders in passenger marine transportation,” said Robertson. “What struck me is the owner and founder is a sea man first, an entrepreneur second.”
According to its website, Riverside Marine was founded in 1926, and now has operations stretching around the Sydney area and across Queensland, going onwards to the offshore oil and gas fields of the North West Shelf. The company could not be reached for comment.