Victoria Harbour marina opening delayed by building boom

The Victoria International Marina expected to have its first vessel in August |  Photo: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

The slow pace of building the Victoria International Marina on the Songhees waterfront is frustrating for the project’s chief executive officer, who is citing the lack of building trades and other issues for delays.

Craig Norris of Community Marine Concepts said he is disappointed the $35-million marina has yet to host its first vessel and acknowledges there has been little progress in the marina’s construction since late July.

“I am almost sick of saying it, but we are on the cusp,” Norris said Friday.

During a media tour in July, he said they were hoping to welcome the first vessel to the 28-slip marina in mid-August.

That didn’t happen.

Norris said bad weather over the winter, difficulty installing utilities at the site and construction delays due to the region’s building boom slowed the project through July.

Now in late September the utilities remain a problem and trades are difficult to find in a city that continues to see new construction projects.

“The utilities have been a difficult thing over the last four or five months. It’s been painful, but it now seems to be all in order. I’m cautiously optimistic but I’m waiting to see it happen,” he said.

Norris said once the utilities are installed and approved, work can begin on pouring concrete for the foundation of the first of two 7,000-square-foot buildings at the site. Then they can frame and building.

The marina’s docks still need a lot of work.

While all but two of the fingers have been anchored — the last two cannot be secured until the crane has finished work on one of the buildings — there are bumpers and railings only in a few places. Norris said work on that has started and will spread, with the addition of kiosks to handle electrical and mechanical systems. When those are in place, they will wire the docks and then add lighting.

As for the first vessel, Norris can’t put a timeline on it. “It could have been yesterday,” he said. “We can actually take boats now, but we don’t have power, water and sewer hooked up as that goes through the building.”

Norris said they have fielded 50 calls for moorage this summer, but the decision was made to hold off taking vessels. “I’m not going to bring in people for a half-assed experience of Victoria. I want them to have full experience when they arrive,” he said.

Norris said they intend to polish the marina through to next spring, though they expect to have some winter moorage this year. “Our big launch will be hosting the Melges24 [world championship sailing regatta May 31-June 8]. That’s the date we are shooting for,” he said.

The marina has been built to accommodate vessels between 65 and 175 feet in length.

The plan is to have the marina’s office building completed this winter. It will also have two small retail spots, event space and a lounge for yacht crews. The second building, closer to the Inner Harbour, will be handed over to a restaurateur in the spring.

Of the marina’s 28 slips, seven will be reserved for daily moorage, seven will be available on a monthly lease, seven will be available on a yearly lease and seven will be reserved for long-term tenants who pay for a 40-year lease.

Norris estimates the 40-year leases will cost between $750,000 and $2 million.

The marina, spread over about five acres, is about half the size it was initially intended to be. At one point it was to have 52 slips, but residents thought it was too large.

Times Colonist