It wasn’t entirely a bump-free ride but a proposal to build a floating seaplane terminal in the Inner Harbour was recommended for approval Thursday by Victoria’s planning and land use committee.
Harbour Air, West Coast Air and Kenmore Air are collaborating on the proposal to build a two-storey terminal with a wave-shaped roof on a leased, city-owned water lot. The new terminal would replace the existing trailers at 950 Wharf St.
But Coun. Pam Madoff wondered if it would be better to engage in negotiations for an extension of the water-lot lease at the same time a development permit is considered for the terminal.
Madoff said there are issues that are not covered by the development permit process that would be covered in the lease.
For example, she said, a vision of the Inner Harbour might suggest a different location for the terminal.
“I’m not saying no Harbour Air terminal. But I’m saying, if it’s found that [it would be better] moving it a few yards or a a few hundred metres … then I need to know who’s going to pay for that,” Madoff said.
“What’s the mechanism in terms of notice to the tenant. Who pays for the upland improvements of a move? Who puts in the piles for new docks? Who does all of those things? It’s the exit clause that’s really important.”
Madoff also said having all three carriers operate out of a single terminal is a great selling point, but there’s no mechanism to ensure that happens or remains that way for the long term.
Those types of issues would be dealt with in the lease, she said.
Other committee members were satisfied the development permit could be considered in isolation of the lease.
Coun. Marianne Alto said the risk actually falls to the applicant, who, even if granted a development permit, would not want to proceed without first negotiating a long-term lease. Alto said she is confident city staff could negotiate a lease that protects the city’s interests.
Coun. Lisa Helps said regardless of the overall harbour vision, the proposed terminal is far superior to the existing one housed in converted trailers.
“Probably everyone would say those portables are ugly, get rid of them. That’s part of my harbour vision,” Helps said.
“It gives me a great deal of ease that the building floats because I think that allows a great deal of flexibility.”
The new terminal is estimated to cost $4 million. Once it’s built, the existing terminal would be demolished and replaced with a plaza, public walkway, benches, trees and bicycle racks.
The city’s three-member planning and land use committee recommended council authorize a development permit and send the application to the advisory design panel and to public hearing.
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