The draft concept for Ship Point includes the construction of a grand staircase, and creating more open spaces for festivals and other activities. Illustration courtesy City of Victoria

The draft concept for Ship Point includes the construction of a grand staircase, and creating more open spaces for festivals and other activities. Illustration courtesy City of Victoria

Victoria’s plan for Ship Point includes grand staircase, retail space

Concepts aim to bring residents closer to the water

Major changes could be coming to Ship Point in Victoria’s Inner Harbour in the next few years.

In an attempt to transform the waterfront lot, which has been largely used for parking in recent memory, the city is looking at adding a number of features, such as a grand staircase, a retail area and open spaces for festivals.

“The vision for the site wasn’t to have buildings developed all over, but rather for the site to be a real signature public open space and waterfront destination,” said Joaquin Karakas, senior urban designer with the city.

The designs are part of the City of Victoria’s draft master plan for the area – plans which were initially developed in 2014, as part of the Harbour Vitality Principles for three key waterfront sites including the Belleville Terminal, the lower Wharf Street/Enterprise site and Ship Point. The city has been working on the draft concept for the roughly five-acre Ship Point land since March.

Currently, a six-metre retaining wall separates Ship Point from the downtown core. Part of the plan is to transition the grade with a grand staircase to create a more seamless connection to the waterfront.

The plan also includes the construction of a small building, which would incorporate underground parking, a restaurant or patio cafe, as well as retail space. Other areas of Ship Point would feature terraced and sloped lawns to allow for a range of activities and festivals and use of the site year-round.

Bringing people closer to the water is key, said Karakas.

“I think people generally like to be connected to nature and in a downtown urban environment, having connections to the water is a really important feature of quality of life,” he said. “As more people continue to live, work and visit the downtown, public open spaces with connections to the water are becoming increasingly important.”

In the coming months, staff will work on an implementation strategy, including breaking the development of the site into phases, and creating timelines and funding strategies. Once complete, the master plan will guide the redevelopment of Ship Point into a high quality waterfront space that will continue to host signature events and festivals and be an important component of the working harbour.

Residents got a sneak peek at the designs and concepts Monday and were given walking tours of the site.

The city will continue to seek input on the draft concept through an online survey until Thursday, Aug. 3. Staff will present it to council in September before proceeding with more detailed design work, then bring the plan back for adoption early next year.

For more information visit victoria.ca/shippoint.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

City of VictoriaInner Harbour