Contentious $22M Victoria Harbour marina ready to go

Dredging 18,000 cubic metres of muck and clay from Victoria Harbour’s seabed is slated to start in September, kicking off construction of the long-planned and contentious $22-million luxury marina.

Once the dredging is done — that will likely take about two weeks — pilings will be driven into the seabed, Anthony Utley, Victoria International Marina sales manager, said Friday.

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The piling work will last about a month, he said.

Pilings will support two commercial buildings in front of Songhees and other marina infrastructure.

“It’s going to be a very esthetically pleasing facility,” Utley said. “The buildings are going to be architecturally interesting.”

The two commercial buildings will likely take about six months to construct, with the entire 29-slip marina finished in 15 months, he said. It is designed for yachts about 65 to 150 feet long.

Leases run for 40 years, with an average one-time cost of $9,000 per foot, increasing somewhat for larger vessels, Utley said. Annual fees covering services, such as maintenance, will be charged as well. That figure has not yet been finalized.

First announced in 2008, a larger version of the marina hit a wall of opposition. It needed federal, provincial and municipal approvals.

Critics worried about its size, location, impact on safety in the busy harbour, and on views. It was eventually redesigned to give paddlers a lighted route under the buildings, and to shave the size of the moorage in half.

Utley said the economic impact to the community will be “huge.”

A group of Vancouver investors has bought out previous investment partner WAM Development Group of Alberta, to work with local partner and developer Bob Evans, Utley said. The name of the development group remains Community Marine Concepts Ltd.

The top of the seabed is filled with a layer of old bark, with clay underneath, Utley said.

A request for proposals for dredging closes in early August. A request for pile-driving proposals will be published shortly, closing in a couple of weeks.

Building permits have been taken out from the City of Victoria. Final design details are being worked out, Utley said.

A restaurant is going in the building to the west. Discussions with a potential tenant are underway, he said.

That building could also include lounge space for marina members.

The second building will include a coffee house and administration for the marina. A concierge will be on hand for marina clients.

In addition to construction jobs, between 20 and 30 jobs will be created for marina workers, he said.

The marina is going to be re-marketed, Utley said. Several companies are crafting proposals for the developer to choose from. Local and international promotions will take place.

cjwilson@timescolonist.comø

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