by Robert Hawkes
In James Bay we are impacted in many ways by the harbour. The cruise ship industry annually brings about 600,000 visitors, as well as more than 200,000 staff, to our area resulting in significant impacts on local businesses. Some of our residents live in the marina at Fisherman’s Wharf, and we all enjoy visiting it, or walking the harbour pathways or the breakwater. Each year harbour events, markets and activities attract large numbers.
The non-profit Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) was formally established early in 2002 to manage various harbour facilities. The GVHA Board is structured with representation from eight member agencies: Songhees Nation, Esquimalt Nation, City of Victoria, the Township of Esquimalt, the Victoria / Esquimalt Harbour Society, Capital Regional District, Tourism Victoria, and the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. There are also four independent directors from the regional community on the board.
The GVHA recently announced the appointment of new board members. Bruce Hale, who is general manager of Finest at Sea Seafood Products, is the representative of the Victoria Esquimalt Harbour Society, while Mayor Barbara Desjardins represents Township of Esquimalt (she is also a past Chair of the GVHA board). Chief Ron Sam, an expert in regional Lekwungen archaeology, represents the Songhees Nation. Gordon Safarik was appointed as an independent director, and Starr McMichael was re-appointed to her second term as an independent director. She also serves as Secretary of the GVHA board.
The other members of the board are Dave Cowen of Tourism Victoria who serves as board chair, Chief Andy Thomas of the Esquimalt Nation who serves as board vice chair, Susan Brice from Capital Regional District, Margaret Lucas a City of Victoria Councillor, Christine Willow representing the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, and independent directors Doug Crowder, Mark Mawhinney, and Gordon Safarik. Ryan Burles, the President of Black Ball Ferry Line, has represented the Victoria Esquimalt Harbour Society on the board.
The GVHA express their vision for our harbour this way: “a harbour where people can live, learn, work and play”. Clearly there are both challenges and opportunities as GVHA guide the redevelopment of harbour facilities in the years ahead. A lot has changed since the days when the harbour was chosen as the Pacific Northwest base of the Hudson’s Bay Company more than 200 year ago, and long before that as a busy centre of First Nations life.
The GVHA provide regular opportunities for community input. You can read the full biographies of all members of the GVHA board at https://www.gvha.ca/about-gvha/governance/board-directors