— Pamela Roth
It’s been five years in the making, but a new float-plane terminal for Victoria’s Inner Harbour should be in place by March.
The 6,000-square foot $4-million facility is currently being constructed in Cowichan Bay. When complete, the terminal will have a modern and rustic design that will include a full customs area complete with a jail and interrogation room — floating on top of the water.
“A floating sea plane terminal will be a signature building in the Inner Harbour,” said Randy Wright, senior vice-president of Harbour Air.
“I think the one thing that I’m excited about is there will be nothing like it in the world.”
According to Wright, the current facility, located on lower Wharf Street, uses Atco trailers that were originally flown in 50 years ago. The trailers were renovated four years ago and will be demolished once the new terminal is in place.
A new public plaza will replace the existing terminal site as part of the signing of a new long-term lease between the City of Victoria and float-plane operators.
In April 2013, the city approved the design of the floating terminal building, docks and plaza. The plaza will feature a green space, benches, bike racks, trees and room to accommodate passenger pick up and drop off.
A floating terminal means the facility can be moved should things change in the harbour. All operators would have to do is pull the piles, anchors and docks.
On Thanksgiving Monday, Wright and the owner of Kenmore Air (part of the Victoria Float Plane Terminal Ltd.) saw the progress being made on the new terminal. Wright knows the logistics of clearing out the old docks, boats and buildings to move in the new terminal will be a challenging job, but it’s one he’s looking forward to.
“We’ve gone through the plan several times on how we’re going to execute this,” he said. “I’m very excited for Victoria. We’re going to have a world class floating sea terminal. I think we’re going to execute this and my hope is that Victoria will be very proud of it.”
Harbour Air runs an average of 27 flights a day during the off- season and between 40 and 50 during high season.