New Inner Harbour marina aims for spring opening, major regatta

A new year has brought a new look to the Victoria International Marina — and fresh optimism from its chief executive.

Despite construction delays last year due to troubles installing utilities at the five-acre Songhees site and the Victoria building boom that resulted in a shortage of skilled tradespeople, Craig Norris of Community Marine Concepts is feeling much better as the marina’s foreshore buildings start to take shape.

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“I can see the end, it’s close and maybe even a little too close,” Norris said with a laugh. “It’s funny, when you’re fighting over minutiae for so long it’s nice to rise above it again and [think] ‘OK, what were we doing again?’ ”

Norris had expressed frustration last year as construction delays pushed back the marina’s opening.

They had hoped to welcome the first vessel to the 28-slip marina in mid-August, but now that is being pushed until this spring.

With a floor and most of a roof on the first of two 7,000-square-foot buildings, Norris said his job is to keep his “eyes on the prize” and keep the momentum rolling. “There’s a lot more work to do,” he said, noting their goal is to be operational and part of the city’s “pride and joy” as it welcomes the world for the Melges 24, a world championship sailing regatta that runs May 31 to June 8.

“It’s like constructing an iceberg — 90 per cent of this is underground and you can’t see it. Then you get above ground and people see it and things start to go quickly. Morale aro0und here is way up and we’re getting more phone calls from people wanting to get involved,” he said.

At this point, the first building — which will house a marina office, with small retail spots, event space and a lounge for yacht crews — has a concrete floor and the bulk of its roof in place.

Norris said the priority is to get the building closed up, which will allow them to install the substation that will provide power to the docks.

The $35-million marina, which has been built to accommodate vessels between 65 and 175 feet in length, has installed power stations on the docks for power, water and sewer. The power lines have not yet been run as Norris noted there is no point until they can be plugged in.

All but two pieces of the docks have been put in place. Those will be locked in when the crane working on the second building closer to the Inner Harbour has moved. Multi-purpose cabinets are being installed on the docks. They will hold safety gear and other equipment.

The second building is expected to be handed over to a restaurateur in the spring.

Of the marina's 28 slips, seven will be reserved for daily moorage, seven will be available on a monthly lease, seven will be available on a yearly lease and seven will be reserved for long-term tenants who pay for a 40-year lease.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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