Comment: Breakwater District arrives, Ogden Point stays

A commentary by the chief executive officer of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

As Jack Knox said in his column, “ ‘Ogden Point’ stands, at least geographically” — I can confirm that the geographic references to Ogden Point are not changing.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve read letters of concern from citizens regarding the introduction of a new name, The Breakwater District, at Ogden Point. Regrettably, some important context to inform the public discourse is missing.

I would like to assure everyone that we are neither attempting to erase history nor are we replacing the name Ogden Point. In its simplest form, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is undertaking a placemaking initiative to enliven the public space around the Victoria Cruise Ship Terminal and the upland, undeveloped lands adjacent to Dallas Road for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.

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I’m listening to a varying range of comments from the community.

Rest assured, the feedback from everyone has provided our organization with the chance to reflect on how we move forward with the launch as well as our continued placemaking efforts into the future.

Peter Skene Ogden’s role in our city and province’s history is complex with moments of inspired achievements and moments of darkness. As with many of his contemporaries, when viewed through a lens of our current time, it’s easy to downplay him as someone who, frankly, was not a good man.

Instead of erasing history, we are instead choosing to incorporate history as part of our placemaking initiative for The Breakwater District.

There is limited information about Ogden on the various interpretive and educational signage along the breakwater and throughout our community-focused areas.

The Breakwater District initiative includes the introduction of new signage and visual markers on the property, which will include a historical account of Peter Skene Ogden that will be introduced on Ogden Point.

We will tell his story within the context of his time, his place in history, and today’s reflections on history for future generations.

The Breakwater District is the culmination of research, design and placemaking goals. We have worked with our board of directors and eight member agencies, which includes the Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation, to create a new and inviting identity for a well-loved space in Victoria.

The intent with this new visual identity is to forge a path forward and to better reconnect the terminal we own with the immediate neighbourhood and Greater Victoria as a whole. A visual identity for The Breakwater District at Ogden Point will be unveiled today.

The geographic name and marine co-ordinate references to Ogden Point remain, as do our main entrances, accessible breakwater pathway, commercial businesses, and public and event spaces.

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