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Greater Victoria Harbour Authority hires new chief executive

The harbour authority owns and operates a number of assets such as Ogden Point and its breakwater, Fisherman’s Wharf, and four harbour marinas.
Robert Lewis-Manning, who is taking over from Ian Robertson as the head of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, at Ogden Point on Friday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Robert Lewis-Manning, the current president of the Chamber of Shipping of B.C., is changing jobs to become the new chief executive of the Greater ­Victoria Harbour Authority.

Lewis-Manning’s first day at the harbour authority will be March 22. He is replacing Ian Robertson, who is retiring after running the organization for nearly eight years.

“We are delighted to ­welcome Robert Lewis-Manning to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, and we look forward to working with him as we shift towards a new 10-year business and strategic plan,” Christine Willow, chair of the board of directors, said in a statement.

Lewis-Manning, who was raised in Toronto, brings ­extensive experience working with public and private sectors on a wide range of issues. He has a political science degree and a master of business ­administration degree.

“I am thrilled to be joining the professional team at the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority as it embarks on defining its future strategic vision,” he said.

”I am looking forward to collaborating with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, business and community stakeholders, and local governments to steward GVHA’s cherished community and business assets in a responsible fashion.”

The harbour authority owns and operates a number of assets such as Ogden Point and its breakwater, Fisherman’s Wharf, and four harbour marinas. Its cruise ship terminal at Ogden Point brings in about $143 million annually to the region’s economy. Ogden Point also taken in large cargo ships which have floundered off B.C.’s coast in recent years, leading Lewis-Manning to liken it to a “port of refuge.”

As for the future, “One of the biggest challenges we have faced in the past three years is all the supply chain delays that have happened for various reasons.”

Various impacts, from forest fires in 2020 to the pandemic, have led to discussions on how best to manage vessel traffic, he said.

Lewis-Manning spent just over 20 years in the Royal ­Canadian Navy leaving at the rank of commander.

His final duty was serving as captain of HMCS Vancouver, a Halifax-class frigate based in Esquimalt.

During his time in the navy, Lewis-Manning took part in humanitarian operations and drug interdiction. He has been based in Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria, plus London, England and Lisbon, Portugal.

He had stints in Afghanistan in 2003 when seconded to work for a NATO research ­organization to understand how local government works, ahead of NATO headquarters being established in Kabul. “That was a fairly impactful part of my military career.”

After leaving the navy, he served as president of the ­Canadian Shipowners’ ­Association out of Ottawa before joining the Vancouver-based Chamber of Shipping, which represents the marine industry on Canada’s west coast.

Lewis-Manning ­developed a new strategic direction, ­including expanding the ­organization’s client base and revenue, prioritizing ­partnerships with First Nations communities, and guiding substantial changes to vessel operations in Canadian waters, the harbour authority said.

He was a key player in the development of Canada’s first marine conservation agreement to protect southern resident killer whales. The 2019 agreement involved a number of industry representatives, the Port of Vancouver, Export Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada.

Lewis-Manning also worked with First Nations and Transport Canada on the protection zone off Haida Gwaii. Commercial vessels of 500 gross tonnage or more must sail at least 560 nautical miles off the west shore.

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