30-year-lease available for Oak Bay Marina

The District of Oak Bay is seeking innovative ideas to transform the Oak Bay Marina into a “vital and happening” place as it plans for the next three decades at the Turkey Head property.

A new lease running from 2023 to 2052 for land, buildings and water at 1327 Beach Dr. is on offer through the municipality.

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The Oak Bay Marine Group’s current 30-year lease runs out at the end of December 2022.

Mayor Kevin Murdoch said that the Oak Bay Marine Group is interested in obtaining another lease.

A company spokesperson referred questions Tuesday to the District of Oak Bay.

Murdoch expects to receive a number of responses before the Nov. 30 deadline.

Oak Bay hopes to choose a proponent by late spring to allow the lease negotiation process to begin.

“Any time you go to the market, you never really know who is available, who has got capital, who is interested,” Murdoch said.

There are “a lot of moving parts in this” — from operating the marina to creating more activities on the site, he said. Buildings at the site are owned by the municipality and total about 25,000 square feet. They include restaurants, a gift shop and offices.

The opportunity was worded to encourage proponents to be innovative.

“You want give them as much freedom as possible to be inventive and come up with ideas that you don’t have,” Murdoch said. “We’d like to see it more activated, for sure. It is a pretty unique space.”

Past suggestions include gathering spaces, a swimming pool, performance areas and a pier.

Oak Bay wants to see better use of the lands with less area devoted to parking and a livelier site serving as more of a destination for a wider range of people. It also hopes to see a sustainable, environmentally responsible project respectful of First Nations culture, language and traditions.

A lease with Oak Bay is subject to the province granting a 30-year lease for its associated water and foreshore areas.

In the late 1950s, the federal government built the breakwater at Turkey Head, paving the way for a protected marina.

The Oak Bay Marina was founded by the late Bob Wright, who built it in 1962 to serve pleasure boats. The first 30-year lease cost Wright $1 per year out of recognition for the cost of launching the business, Murdoch said.

In the second lease, costs are tied to the financial performance at the site, Murdoch said. Last year, about $375,000 came into the municipality.

Proponents would not be permitted to reduce the dock space, now at about 18,852 lineal feet, or about 392 slips, without permission from the district. Floats and slips are owned by the Oak Bay Marine Group but under the terms of the contract, Oak Bay can buy them at fair market value at the end of the lease.

Oak Bay also wants to hear ideas on how to manage the boats that are moored in the nearby bay and are not part of the marina business. Some of those vessels have washed up on shore after being damaged by storms.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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