Oak Bay chooses B.C. developer for marina, Turkey Head revamp

A B.C. developer has won the right to negotiate a 30-year lease for Oak Bay Marina and Turkey Head, which is expected to undergo a major transformation to increase public use.

Oak Bay issued a request in September to redevelop its 1327 Beach Dr. property with new activities and features.

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Submissions were whittled down to two, with Oak Bay council announcing Thursday its decision to embark on talks with what it called Proponent One.

Identities of the proponents are confidential for now.

“Turkey Head has significance beyond the marina, retail and restaurant operations,” Mayor Kevin Murdoch said.

“Among hundreds of good ideas heard through the public engagement process, some consistent themes emerged, including the importance of ocean environmental protection, seeking opportunities for First Nations reconciliation, access to beaches, supporting small-craft water sports, all-ages walkability, opportunities for gatherings and, of course, ensuring the district sees revenue proportional to the high value of the property.”

A negotiating team plans to start talks shortly with the proponent. The team consists of municipal staff, hired experts and a professional negotiator, Murdoch said.

Talks are expected to carry on into 2022.

Before a deal is signed for the 2.6-hectare property, citizens will have the opportunity to speak to council, he said.

The lease will be made public once signed, Murdoch said.

Oak Bay Marine Group has operated on the site under a lease that expires at the end of 2022.

The late Bob Wright negotiated with the municipality for the property, and modernized and developed the site with its 18,850 feet of dock space (close to 400 slips), restaurant, cafe, gift shop and company offices. For many years, it ran an aquarium with performing killer whales.

The municipality decided that under the next lease, it wanted to see the property attract more people in more ways and incorporate First Nations culture.

After the district announced its final two options, the submissions were posted online for comments.

Citizens sent in more than 600 responses, providing many comments on what they would like to see, Murdoch said.

Oak Bay chose “two solid responses,” from proponents, he said.

They were different from each other, met community goals for the property, passed a technical review and the proponents demonstrated they could financially take on the project, he said.

This month, council members voted in an in-camera session to negotiate with Proponent One.

Oak Bay has not disclosed the names of the top two proponents, although Murdoch said they are both from B.C.

The preferred proposal would include a plaza with a tourist information spot, a new cycling station with racks, a repair station and charging station for electric bikes. This area would have a paddle-sports centre with rental equipment, a boat brokerage and a community meeting space.

It features an over-the-water circular-shaped waterfront pier off an expanded Turkey Head walkway, a natural play area, a Songhees house post and First Nations interpretive signs.

An art walk, bandshell, viewing areas and park, along with a revised parking lot with about 220 spaces, are planned.

The north end of the parking area would be adaptable and used for special events, such as festivals and car shows. There would be charging stations for electric vehicles, better beach access and additional outdoor seating in front of the restaurant.

Rain gardens and new landscaping would be installed.

The existing restaurant and cafe areas would be upgraded in a building with showers, laundry and public washrooms on the lower level.

A marine service centre and a marshalling area for movie productions are also part of the plan.

To view the proposal, go to oakbay.ca/sites/default/files/Proponent-1-Community-Amenity-Value-Proposal_0.pdf.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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