Another step towards Ogden Point redevelopment
By Robert Hawkes
At the end of May the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) endorsed the Ogden Point Master Plan developed by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA). Specifically they call on the provincial government to support a GVHA application for federal government funding for the redevelopment. While actual construction is still well in the future, the key parts of the proposed redevelopment are now defined.
The GVHA is an incorporated non-profit society that was established in February 2002 through a memorandum of understanding between various parties including the Provincial Capital Commission, City of Victoria, Township of Esquimalt, the Victoria/Esquimalt Harbour Society, and the Esquimalt First Nation and the Songhees First Nation. It was to be responsible for operation and development of marine related facilities. From the outset "All the parties acknowledged that Victoria's harbour lies within the traditional territory of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nation and agreed that those Nations would each have meaningful participation in the divestiture process." The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (GVCC), Tourism Victoria and the Capital Regional District were added later to the GVHA. All parties have worked together in the Ogden Point redevelopment planning process.
In addition to the cruise ship deep water facility at Ogden Point, the GVHA owns and operates marinas at Causeway-Ship Point and Wharf Street, leases the Steamship Terminal Building and operates the mixed-use Fisherman's Wharf facility. Transport Canada regulates and controls water traffic in the harbour, while Nav Canada regulates air traffic.
The Ogden Point Master Plan was developed over a number of years and phases, with the active part of phase I starting in 2008. Stantec, an international firm operating from more than 400 locations, including a number in British Columbia, was contracted to develop the Ogden Point Master Plan. Stantec has expertise in architectural, engineering and environmental aspects of projects, and, in particular, in developing community involvement in planning decisions. Community information sessions and conversations were held during 2016, and provided feedback for this final revision of the Master Plan which was released at the end of 2016.
The main components of the redeveloped Ogden Point facility include two new commercial buildings that will front on Dallas Street (see figure). Between the commercial buildings will be a bike and pedestrian entrance that will lead to a new First Nations cultural and retail area. While there will be some refurbishment of Pier A (the one closest to the breakwater), the big changes will be on Pier B where an upgraded terminal will be constructed for home port operations and other uses off season. There will also be improvements to the heliport terminal, marine services, boat launch and pilot boat area. A substantial redesign of public spaces at the site will make them more attractive and efficient.
The draft master plan was submitted to the City of Victoria by the GVHA in December 2016. Currently the City of Victoria and GVHA are working to finalize details of the Master Plan, aiming for approval in Fall 2017. Rezoning considerations would start shortly after that, and it is anticipated that rezoning approval would be secured in 2019.
I asked officials at the GVHA whether a construction timetable was yet available. They replied that construction would take place in phases, but it was too early to specify exactly when construction of the different parts would be started and completed.
The GVHA have been active in promoting mixed use of the various facilities year round, through initiatives such as the weekly Breakwater Market and Breakwater Barge, and events such as Symphony Splash and the Boat Show. With redevelopment Ogden Point will be capable of attracting larger numbers of Victoria residents. On their website GVHA encourages community use of facilities through their in-kind sponsorship program. The GVHA "provides in-kind sponsorship to support and promote community events and initiatives that align with GVHA’s guiding principles and vision. As such, GVHA welcomes applications from events featuring marine, cultural, educational and artistic components."
The impact of the cruise ship industry on Victoria is substantial. The background document provided by the GVCC estimates that in 2016 the direct economic impact to Victoria from cruise ship operations was more than $100 million, with about 700 jobs supported in Victoria. The goal is for Victoria to become a home cruise ship port in the early 2020's, meaning that some trips will start or end here, rather than simply a stop along the way. This would substantially add to the economic impact on Victoria. Overall in Canada the cruise ship industry injects about 3.2 billion dollars annually, and when both direct and indirect jobs are included approximately 23,000 jobs are linked to the industry.