Marina in Victoria Harbour to have two commercial buildings

Victoria International Marina is going to have two commercial buildings, rather than one, now that its developer has decided to stick with a city-approved scheme.

Construction will start in the spring, likely in April, said Craig Norris, managing director of Community Marine Concepts.

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The new plan is not finished but will be “almost exactly the same design,” with two buildings planned, he said.

The announcement follows a decision made in a second meeting with the project owners on Wednesday, Norris said.

The $24-million marina development had won city approval for a development permit to build two commercial buildings to go up on water lots in front of Songhees in Victoria Harbour.

But the developer sought this year to scale down the project to one building from two. To do that, it would have needed permission to put a B.C. Hydro substation on municipal land, along with other waterfront requests. That substation is needed to provide power to the 30-slip marina.

Victoria council vetoed the substation proposal in late January and the developer then reviewed the options.

Without putting the substation on land, it was not possible to complete the one-building design.

“There is nowhere else we can put it [the substation)]. We don’t have any more land,” Norris said.

Under the two-building design, the substation will be installed in one of the buildings.

Cost implications of the two-building design are not being released, Norris said.

It is likely that the buildings will be put up one at a time, not at the same time, he said. The construction schedule will be developed in the next few weeks.

These structures will house a restaurant and other marina-related uses, Norris said.

The marina sparked a passionate response from area residents and water users when it was announced in 2008. Rezoning resulted in changing the number of slips to 30 from 52.

Designed to accommodate large yachts, with minimum size limits set by the federal government, the marina was seen by backers as a way to bring money into the community, boost marina-related industries, meet a demand for moorage and help support the tourism sector.

Critics did not like the idea of a marina serving larger vessels, which they said would create safety hazards in the busy harbour and would not suit the local paddling community. The location is too windy to accommodate the planned marina, they argued.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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