Songhees marina awaiting federal decision
Nov 24 2011
Developers of a proposed luxury marina in Victoria's harbour are hoping the federal government will make a decision on the project by year's end.
Transport Canada originally approved a navigable waters permit in May 2010, and received green lights from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada for a 52-slip marina.
But the $19-million project was subsequently decreased in size to a
29-slip development after a rezoning by the City of Victoria in September 2010.
New submissions for the smaller project were made to Transport Canada. Public input was then solicited for the federal government late last year and in February of this year.
Federal officials were contacted Wednesday but did not provide an update on the application's status.
Marina developers would like to get a result before the end of the year. If approvals come through, that will allow marketing and construction to go ahead in 2012.
"We are still waiting on Transport Canada for the revised navigable waters permit and environmental screening," Lachlan MacLean, vice-president of WAM Development Group, said Wednesday from Vancouver.
"I think they want to be very careful because the project has been under a lot of scrutiny, so they want to make sure they have explored every avenue and make sure that they have a very robust decision."
WAM is partnering with local developer Bob Evans to build the marina and two commercial buildings in front of Songhees.
"If we can have that decision made before the end of the year, that works well going into boat show season, which kicks off early in 2012," MacLean said. They would like to promote the marina at the Seattle Boat Show starting Jan. 27, the Vancouver International Boat Show starting Feb. 8, and a show in Victoria in April.
The marina is taking reservations for slips, which would be able to handle vessels of 20 to 45 metres in length.
Federal approvals are needed before the developer can dredge the seabed under the marina site. The next window for dredging would be in July 2012. If work starts next year, the marina would open in 2013, he said.
The development project is as contentious as it is complex. Federal, provincial and municipal governments all have decision-making roles in the plan. A variety of community interests rallied to battle the marina, citing concerns including blocked views, environmental worries, decreased safety in the already busy harbour, and a dislike of large luxury yachts.
Victoria responded by downzoning the provincially owned water lot where the marina would be located, resulting in a decrease in size. The project received a development permit approval this past September for its commercial buildings.