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Harbour authority beats budget in busy year

Aug 31 2012

Taking over the former CPR Steamship Building has been a "game changer" for the nonprofit Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, says president and CEO Curtis Grad.

The Provincial Capital Commission, landlord of the historic building at 470 Belleville St., unanimously chose the harbour authority over three other bidders to operate the building.

Its transformation into a major tourism draw is now well underway. Artist Robert Bateman is taking over the top two floors for his Bateman Foundation, and the lower two levels will be used for commercial and public space.

"That is what the building was in its heyday. It was the international gateway for Victoria and it was public space," Grad said.

The authority owns several high-profile properties - all divested by the federal government in 2002 - including: Ogden Point, Fisherman's Wharf, Ship Point, and marinas along the downtown causeway and along Wharf Street.

The authority just released its audited financial statements, which reflect a busy and successful year.

"A lot of the other things we've been doing [other than the CPR building] were incremental developments like growth in cruises; building up our heavier marine traffic at Ogden Point like the cleaning ships and things of that nature; and the building of Fisherman's Wharf activity," Grad said.

Over the past fiscal year, Ogden Point was visited by 11 freighters for cargo-hold cleaning and had 11 yacht-transport visits, a submarine floating dry dock operation and the log salvage from a vessel damaged at sea.

The authority has also reached new commercial property agreements with Whitehall Reproductions Canada Ltd., Puerto Vallarta Amigos, Seaquest Explorations and Victoria Marine Rescue Society.

The organization exceeded its revenue budget by about seven per cent, posting revenues of $7.45 million. Cruise visits brought more than 435,000 passengers to Victoria. Marina revenues increased by 16 per cent.

At the end of fiscal 2012, the authority posted a net surplus of $120,077.

The harbour authority will be continuing to work on some major planning initiatives in 2012-13, Grad said, including finishing up the Fisherman's Wharf and the Ogden Point plans.

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