Oak Bay considers 2 pitches for Turkey Head and Marina property

The public is being asked to weigh in on whether they would like a bandshell, a new waterfront pier, an ocean activity centre or a floating market at the Oak Bay Marina and Turkey Head promontory for the next three decades.

Those ideas and many others are contained in two proposals now being considered by the the District of Oak Bay as it moves forward on a new 30-year lease of the land, buildings and water at 1327 Beach Dr. The Oak Bay Marine Group’s 30-year lease runs out at the end of December 2022.

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Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch said Monday that a technical evaluation of the proposals is completed and the district is seeking community input on the two proposals.

Proposal 1 [PDF] would create 220 parking stalls on the 2.6-hectare property. It calls for a paddle sports pier, an art walk, a new fuel dock, an expanded Turkey Head walkway, a bandshell, a new waterfront pier, rain gardens, Songhees First Nation moorage and a cycling hub among other amenities.

Proposal A [PDF] would create 100 parking stalls. Its plans calls for renovating the existing office space, gift shop and boat works yard and creating an ocean activity centre with a paddling centre in the basement of the building. The proposal also includes a new 4,000-square-foot marina cafe and restaurant building and floating market space for retail, culinary and tourism operators such as Songhees-led eco-tours to Discovery Island and the Chatham Islands, among other amenities.

Murdoch said he is looking forward to community feedback and council’s discussion of the proposals. “I’m pleased that we have two thoughtful and different proposals. That’s always a risk that you only end up with one or they are very similar,” he said.

The proposals, which are available online, were required to be made anonymously, said the mayor. “We wanted to make sure the public input review of the amenities was based on the content of the proposals and not on anything else, the names attached or previous history. We’re trying to create as level a playing field as possible in the evaluation process.”

The public can provide feedback at a special committee of the whole meeting on March 1 at 6 p.m. or through a questionnaire on the district website, open until March 2.

Financial evaluation of the proposals will come later, said the mayor. “We’re hoping to have an April preliminary decision then going into negotiation at that point.”

In September, Oak Bay issued a request for proposals, saying it wants to see better use of the lands with a smaller parking area and livelier use of the site for a wider range of people. It also hopes to see a sustainable, environmentally responsible project respectful of First Nations culture, language and traditions.

Proponents are not 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 asked for ideas on managing the boats moored in the nearby bay.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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