A passenger ferry service for those wanting to travel directly from Victoria to Vancouver harbour is one stop closer towards becoming a reality this summer.
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) and Riverside Marine B.C. have reached an offer to lease agreement for the Steamship Terminal.
According to the GVHA, the top floor of the building will house Riverside’s Canadian corporate operations, the main floor will be a sales information area and support space will be located on the lower level.
Using a high speed jet catamaran with a capacity of up to 300 passengers, the service will initially begin with daily sailings departing Vancouver in the morning and Victoria in the afternoon. The trip is expected to take up to three-and-a-half hours and will include WiFi, local food and beverages, a guided interpretation of sea and wildlife, oceanography and local geography, West Coast culture and history.
“By signing to terms on a lease with Riverside Marine B.C., we are officially welcoming a new transportation service and tourism experience to our city,” said GVHA CEO Ian Robertson. “This new marine related business aligns with the historical use and adds vibrancy and life to Victoria’s Steamship Terminal building.”
A harbour-to-harbour fast-speed ferry service was tried in the early 1990s when Royal Sealink Express ran catamarans between the two cities. The service, however, was eventually halted due to low ridership and seasickness among passengers.
Robertson expects this time will be different since the company is already providing similar services and are leaders in passenger marine transportation.
Riverside Marine BC. is a division of Riverside Marine Australia — a family business incorporated in 1926. The company now has operations stretching around the Sydney area and across Queensland, going onwards to the offshore oil and gas fields of the North West Shelf. The B.C. division was recently set up to operate V2V vacations and is the company’s first expansion into North America.
“We’re pleased to be working with the GVHA and bringing a passenger marine transportation service back to this historic building along the stunning Inner Harbour and we look forward to our visitors experiencing two of the most beautiful harbours in the world and the ocean ways in between,” said Riverside Marine CEO Hume Campbell in a statement.
Riverside Marine will start work early this year retrofitting its newest addition to its fleet of passenger catamarans. Preliminary services should start during the summer and full operations are slated for the 2017 tourism season.