Oak Bay Marine Group selected to redevelop Turkey Head marina property

Talks have started between the District of Oak Bay and the Oak Bay Marine Group with the goal of finalizing a third 30-year lease for the marina property that includes redevelopment of the Turkey Head site.

If the parties reach an agreement, it would give the Oak Bay Marine Group a total of 90 years at 1327 Beach Dr. Its second 30-lease expires at the end of next year.

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On Monday, the municipality identified the private company as the preferred proponent.

The Oak Bay Marine Group’s proposal was chosen by council for its balance of financial and technical components and amenities, Mayor Kevin ­Murdoch said.

The district announced in late May that the proponents had been winnowed down to one, but did not reveal the name of the favoured developer.

Scores for the final ­proponents were calculated anonymously, although council knew the names prior to making its final choice, Murdoch said.

He would not elaborate on specific aspects of the Oak Bay Marine Group’s proposal that council favoured, but did say the ability to manage and protect the eelgrass in the wider area is appealing.

Oak Bay Marine Group chief executive Brook Castelsky said in a statement that the company is “thrilled” to be selected. “Oak Bay has been our home for the last 60 years and we look forward to continuing to evolve and meet the needs of the community,” Castelsky said. “We greatly value all the community input that we received and we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders, including First Nations.”

The process to confirm a third long-term lease for the site started in 2019 and is anticipated to last through the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, according to the municipality.

This time, Oak Bay is aiming for a more lively site offering more public amenities.

Murdoch said talks with the Oak Bay Marine Group will ­continue through the summer and fall. “There’s a lot of ­components to this that need clarification and costing,” he said. “It’s in the interest of both parties, and therefore the ­community, to resolve this sooner than later, but there’s a lot of work to do.”

He would not discuss ­potential financial terms for a lease, but said Oak Bay is ­seeking a fair market return for the property.

The upcoming lease agreement will be modernized to include community expectations, said Murdoch, adding past language regarding performance measurements and standards was unclear.

One requirement of proponents was to come up with a way of managing boats moored in the adjacent bay, where it’s not uncommon to see boats washed up on shore after strong winds, with some sinking to the bottom of the bay.

The proponent said that given that the bay is adjacent to the marina, the most practical option is for Oak Bay to ask the province to extend its water lease to include the bay, which would allow the municipality to manage mooring buoys in the area.

“I think it’s necessary for us to take stronger control of that area,” said Murdoch. He said the situation is similar to that in the Gorge, where a number of vessels were previously moored.

“The lack of regulation and control [in the bay] is causing pretty significant concerns, so even if we can just set some standards for the mooring buoys, things would be helpful. I think a more comprehensive management approach will be very, very beneficial for that area.”

The Oak Bay Marine Group was founded by the late Bob Wright, a strong advocate for the sports fishing sector. The marina opened in 1962 to serve pleasure boats.

The technical report from the Oak Bay Marine Group can be seen here [PDF].

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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