A new attempt will be made later this year to raise money to replace the timber wharf used by the MV Coho ferry in the Inner Harbour.
The project is the most pressing matter facing Victoria harbour infrastructure owned by the Provincial Capital Commission, Rick Crosby, chief executive officer of the Crown agency, said Wednesday.
The wharf is leased to the Black Ball Ferry Line, which runs daily service between Victoria and Port Angeles, Washington, and “needs to be replaced within five years.”
“So there needs to be a plan coming together specifically dealing with that,” Crosby said.
Different levels of government, businesses and citizens have spent decades talking about replacing the Belleville Street terminal and wharf.
Improvements have been completed to keep it operating, but despite numerous studies and plenty of discussion a new terminal has not been built. The land area is cramped and facilities are outdated, critics say.
The Belleville terminal also serves Clipper Navigation, a passenger ferry that runs between Seattle and Victoria. Between the Clipper and Coho, about a million visitors arrive at the terminal every year. “The Blackball wharf is the most immediate infrastructure issue,” Crosby said.
The PCC’s service plan said replacing the timber wharf would cost up to $10 million — and more money will be needed after that.
“Within 10 to 15 years, its also anticipated additional investments will be required to replace the current wharf infrastructure at Belleville Port Facility and Ship Point,” the plan said.
The PCC is talking to Black Ball about the wharf and will also be discussing the matter with the province, Crosby said.
“That will be an issue that we will be looking at later in 2013 and tying it to a future budgeting process. We need to come to terms with where the source funding is going to come from because our legislation doesn’t allow us to borrow. I don’t have the ability to go out and debt finance the construction of a new wharf.”
There is also $500,000 in federal funding, which must be used by March 2014 on infrastructure improvements at the Belleville Terminal.
The Provincial Capital Commission is planning to continue operations as usual, even though some of its holdings are under provincial scrutiny for potential sale. No specific PCC properties have been named yet.
A year ago, the provincial government announced it was restructuring the commission. This included reducing staff to nine from 12. Shared Services B.C. took on management of the commission’s properties, cutting costs by $200,000, Crosby said.
The PCC is a self-sustaining body responsible for such properties as the historic CPR Steamship Terminal on Belleville Street, St. Ann's Academy and green space in the capital region. It uses revenues from properties to promote interest among citizens, particularly among children, in the province’s capital and B.C. history.
In 2011-2012, the commission had professional services costs of $405,000, That’s forecast to drop to $140,000 for the 2012-2013 year.
The previous CEO was paid $120,000 under a contract. Other professional costs related to lining up tenants for the CPR Steamship Terminal, including having lawyers draw up a legal agreement, Crosby said.
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