— Pamela Roth
If all goes according to plan, a portion of the Victoria harbour’s northwest side will be catering specifically to the needs of international yachters next summer.
The final design for the Victoria International Marina has now been ironed out — 30 years after planning for the project initially began.
When the project was first unveiled in 2008, critics worried about its size, location, impact on safety in the busy harbour and the views the yachts would obstruct. Since then, the marina has changed the design and size several times to comply with changing federal, provincial and municipal regulations, along with feedback from community groups and First Nations representatives.
Craig Norris, director of strategic planning with Community Marine Concepts Ltd., believes the plans now have something that works for everyone.
“When they went in for development permits for the buildings there was a lot of community push back, there was some politics mixed in there,” said Norris. “Now it’s time to do the right thing and in a current market, so this is it.”
In the new design, the $24-million marina on the Songhees has added more access for the community and a seven-metre wide, 400-foot long canal for paddle boats.
The canal will be located between the docks and the shore, with floats for launching paddle boats and bridges for dock access.
The marina also includes a restaurant on the water that will be internationally recognized and 30 slips for yachts 65 to 150 feet long. In addition, there will be approximately 8,000-square feet of commercial space, a tea and coffee house, along with marine commercial space.
According to Norris, the marina will be the only dedicated yachting hub in North America, and has a top notch design for housing yachts, complete with a concierge that caters to the owner’s every need.
As for where the owners are from, Norris said there may be a few from the United Arab Emirates and the United States, but there’s also a lot of locals.
“Yachters are interesting people. They certainly don’t mind people talking about their yachts, but they don’t want people bugging them about it. They like their privacy,” said Norris, adding the economic benefit to Victoria will be “insane.”
“It’s much like the cruise ships, but this will be a very different type of guest. They will be injecting millions of dollars into the local economy and it’s a relatively passive investment…It’s a real chance for Victoria to put itself back on the international map.”
General dredging for the marina was completed in the spring and pilings for the paddle canal will be installed in November and December. The building and docks will be constructed by Bluewater Manufacturing in their covered dry docks on the Fraser River to minimize construction noise in the Victoria harbour. The structures will later be towed to Victoria.