The historic CPR Steamship Terminal will reopen to the public by July 2012 with a restaurant, pub, retail space, and a waterside performance area. Offices and meeting space will occupy upper floors.
This is the plan presented by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority in its bid to occupy the prominent public facility, managed by the Provincial Capital Commission.
The winning bid was announced Wednesday by the Provincial Capital Commission, after a year-long search for a tenant to lease the building at 468-470 Belleville St., alongside the Inner Harbour.
“The GVHA vision is to restore CPR Steamship Terminal to its former grandeur as a vibrant, publicly accessible hub for both visitors and local residents,” said Rick Crosby, the Provincial Capital Commission’s CFO. “Their proposal buys flexibility.”
Also proposed by the harbour authority — but outside the terms of its lease obligations — is a long-term goal to consolidate the two ferry terminals into one facility that channels tourists through the historic terminal.
Tenancy selection was a three-step process.
First a screening team evaluated the four submissions, which included bids from the Maritime Museum of B.C., Moxie’s Classic Grill and the Oak Bay Marine Group.
Next, a five-member advisory panel made a unanimous recommendation in favour of the harbour authority’s bid.
Finally, the Provincial Capital Commission’s board unanimously voted to support the recommendation.
Crosby acknowledged the widespread public support for the maritime museum’s bid to relocate to the Inner Harbour. The PCC board, he added, hopes the museum can have a presence in the building.
Jaime Webb, Maritime Museum of B.C. board president, said he’d only be open to subletting if it was large enough space for a “critical masse for a real quality attraction.”
Before the decision, he criticized the GVHA’s proposal to sublet to food, beverage and retail operators.
The businesses in the terminal will compete with those already operating in the downtown, Webb said. “People don’t go to a destination to look at the transportation terminal.”
PCC board member and outgoing Victoria city councillor, Lynn Hunter, had a different take.
“I think the decision is the right one,” said Hunter, who also represents the James Bay neighbourhood on council. “I think it will be a catalyst for redeveloping the harbour in a wholesale way. I’m hoping the provincial government will now turn their attention to this.”
The maritime museum also wins, she said. “They will now have the potential of having some of those treasures displayed in a really prominent location.”
The showcase could help to draw tourists to the museum’s location in Bastion Square, Hunter said.