The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is looking into other businesses that could move into the Inner Harbour Steamship Terminal, if an agreement can't be reached with the Maritime Museum of B.C. by the fall.
Ian Robertson, CEO of the harbour authority, said they have put out a request for proposals and have had a “very positive” response from businesses and organizations interested in leasing the 6,000 square foot province-owned building.
“We've got a request for proposals right now that if we don't get an agreement reached with the maritime museum where the provincial government is involved then I'm quite frankly left with no other choice other than to find other suitable tenants for that space,” said Robertson.
The harbour authority is the primary tenant of the building on Belleville Street. They originally signed a six-month contract with the maritime museum to occupy the space.
But since the contract expired on Feb.28, negotiations have stalled even further between the authority, the museum and Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Community Sport and Cultural Development and Ministry of Technology Innovation and Citizen Services.
The original negotiation deadline was March 31, which then was pushed back to April 15 and the three parties have still not reached an agreement.
Robertson added they are losing money on the building, which is currently empty.
“We're wondering if we're even going to get a proposal and if yes, when can we expect it. We haven't even had a response to say yes you can expect one,” said Robertson. “What we would like to see contained in there is a financial commitment to the maritime museum or to the GVH to ensure we can run at a break even on a space that we would lease to the maritime museum.”
Clay Evans, chair of the Maritime Museum of B.C. Society Board, said they are keeping their eyes open for other potential sites to house the roughly 35,000 museum artifacts, which are being kept in a storage facility and the Bastion Square facility.
“The MMBC Board still feels that the lower level of the Steamship Terminal is ready made for a maritime museum and is where we belong,” said Evans in an email.
“We realize that after close to 10 months, that certain parties to the negotiations may feel the need to move on. The politics and real property agreements around this building are inordinately complex and the MMBC is somewhat in the middle and becoming a victim of this dysfunction. That said, I do feel that for the most part all of the key players in the province and at the GVHA are doing their best.”
There is no timeline currently set for negotiations, added Robertson.