The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is looking to reduce its losses by handing back to the province control of the CPR Steamship Terminal building on the Inner Harbour.
Authority chief executive Ian Robertson confirmed the organization is in discussions with the province about the possibility of taking the head lease of the historic building off the harbour authority’s hands.
“The conversation around the lease has been an ongoing discussion since I got here” seven years ago, Robertson said. “I can say they have picked up in the last few months.”
The urgency of those discussions appears to have increased, with the harbour authority reporting a $1.1-million loss for the past year. The previous year it posted a surplus of $3.6 million.
While filling the building with tenants has been an annual directive for the authority, it has not been easy, said Robertson, noting a large space on the upper floor has been vacant since Riverside Marine shut down the V2V passenger ferry service to Vancouver in 2019.
The building also houses the Bateman Gallery, Steamship Grill and Starbucks.
“We feel confident we have done everything we can do to try and make sure that building has been fully tenanted, but it has been challenging and it’s been something our board has asked me to work on,” Robertson said.
The harbour authority won the right to hold the main lease for the building in 2011.
Last year, the building, designed by architects P.L. James and F.M Rattenbury and opened in 1924, cost the harbour authority $1 million, while it only brought in $800,000. The previous year, the costs were the same but it only brought in $600,000, according to the harbour authority’s financial statements.
That added more red ink to a ledger that took a $9-million hit last year due to the loss of cruise-ship revenue.
The authority collects revenue from a cruise passenger tariff and sustainability fee, along with cruise support services.