Breakwater District branding will include historic Ogden name

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority served up its new name for the site of Victoria’s cruise-ship terminal Wednesday, along with a solid helping of compromise.

After a leaked version of the name — the Breakwater District — led to some outcry that the harbour authority was erasing history or had no right to change the name, it was tweaked to become the Breakwater District at Ogden Point ahead of the reveal on Wednesday morning.

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“We had to make a conscious effort to demonstrate we are not erasing the name,” said authority chief executive Ian Robertson, noting they heard the concerns loud and clear. “We are neither attempting to erase nor replace the name of Ogden Point.

“What today allowed us to do is to clarify for the residents — and we heard from a lot of them — that it was never our intent to erase the name.”

Robertson said Ogden Point will always refer to the area just beyond the breakwater, though he noted it is only part of the 30-acre site. “The name Breakwater District at Ogden Point encompasses that entire site,” he said, adding that space has been opened up in recent years and is meant to be a place of commerce and a destination for visitors and locals.

The authority estimates more than 400,000 people walked along the breakwater last year, while the Victoria Cruise Ship Terminal welcomed more than 640,000 cruise visitors and 250,000 crew members.

The harbour authority sees continued growth at the site and has designs on a major redevelopment that could take decades and cost more than $300 million. That plan is under review.

Robertson said they expect to soon have a finalized report prepared by Jonathan Huggett — former project director for the Johnson Street Bridge — on the state of the master plan.

“He was brought in to do a temperature check and peer review of the process to date,” said Robertson, noting that will help the harbour authority’s board determine the next steps.

He said the master plan has been in the works for more than 10 years, and a lot has changed in that time.

“This is an opportunity to take a pause to look at the plan and determine does that still work for this area,” Robertson said.

The review is apparently in its final stages, and Robertson said once the board has read it, “we will work to release some of the recommendations that come from the report.”

Of the work he has seen, Robertson said there is nothing that has concerned him.

“There’s nothing here saying it’s not worthy of development,” he said. “I think it’s about how we go about it and the pace. The James Bay neighbourhood is going through its planning process and I think we need to make sure we are in alignment with that.”

A tentative master plan, unveiled in 2016, suggested the site could include a hotel, stores, cruise ship and other marine services, parks, walkways, First Nation displays and an educational component.

All of that would come under the banner of the Breakwater District at Ogden Point and a new visual identity the harbour authority hopes will celebrate the site’s history and set the stage for future growth.

The new main logo for the district is a stylized capital B with a lighthouse within the body of the letter. There are 10 other variations of the B with icons embedded that reflect the site, including a ship, anchor, waves and Indigenous art.

The new look of the district so far has included a new paint job of the east wall of the warehouse at Pier A, including the lighthouse logo and new entrance signage at both the north and south entrances to the Breakwater District at Ogden Point.

There will be new wayfinding markers for cruise visitors, and the creation of a new 75-metre mural on site as well as flags throughout the terminal, and detailed information guides.

The site will also have a detailed account of the point’s namesake, Peter Skene Ogden. “We’re working with historians and his descendants to build a narrative to tell his story within the context of his time and place in history,” said Robertson.

The breakwater, constructed by the federal government in 1913 at a cost of $2.26 million, was named for Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Ogden was a fur trader and explorer who had a reputation for violence.

He was reported to have had several violent clashes with HBC traders when he was with the North West Company, and was charged with murder after it was reported he killed an Indigenous trader in 1816.

In the 1820s, despite opposition, Ogden was named chief trader for the Hudson's Bay Company and led several expeditions south of the Columbia River.

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