Friday, December 11, 2009

Victoria International Marina

I have been meaning to write about the proposed Victoria International Marina in Vic West for some time now but things keep getting in the way.

In general I have no major problems with the marina proposal, in fact it seems to be more sensitive to the needs of other water users than the original 1984 concept plan for the Songhees. The location strikes me a a good one to have a marina, certainly we need a lot more moorage of all types in the harbour as demand way outstrips supply.

There has been a loud and strong opposition to the marina. Our local MP is doing a stellar job in representing the interests of the people opposed to the marina. She deserves to be congratulated for working this well on an issue, it is rare to find an MP that is able to work this well.

The opposition to the marina comes in several forms and I am not convinced by any of the arguments.

1) The size and scope of the marina - it is about the same size as what has been suggested for that location. It is not a very large marina all things considered. It is on a scale that is harmonious with the existing uses on the water in the harbour.

2) Impact on paddling sports. I know that many kayakers are concerned about the loss of the distance between the shore and the water aerodrome, but I can not see how this is a problem as they still have a decent sized passage between the marina and Pelly Island. I will admit I am not as up on the concerns about the paddlers as I should be. Of the arguments made against the marina, this is the one that merits the most consideration.

I am convinced that it should be possible to accommodate the interests of the marina and the paddlers if people are willing to cooperate.

At the end of the day, paddlers are getting the habour for free and have many other locations in the region to paddle. The marina would be paying some of the harbour costs.

3) Habour safety because there is more traffic. I do not see how this argument is being made given the small number of boats we are talking about and the skills needed to operate one of the yachts. If there was an actual measurable issue with traffic, I am certain this proposal would be shot down.

4) Large yachts are not acceptable in the world today. This argument seems to be about opposition to the idea that there are rich people out there that can own large yachts. There is a knee jerk reaction to the wealthy among certain parts of our society. There are arguments being made that these yachts will burn too much fuel and cause too many CO2 emissions. Other arguments being that with peak oil no one will have yachts like this. The answer to the first is to have a carbon tax - which only BC has. The answer to the second is that this is business idea and has every right to fail because it does not make money.

At the moment the shoreline of the Songhees is dead. There is a nice walkway built, but as a public space it is dead, it has no life to it. The grass is too nice and green, the space is too open and clean. There is very little inviting about it. There is no attempt to hold community events on the waterfront.

The marina will add some more life into the area. The proposed restaurant will help give people a place to go to and be. One of the reasons the north side of the inner harbour works is because there are places to sit and eat. Eating meaning a place to buy food.

The marina would also offer us something to look at. I will never own one of these large yachts (OK that is not necessarily true as I almost ended up buying a 55' Hereshoff design sloop when I was at UVic - it was going for a song because it was fero-concrete). But I do like going to the inner harbour to look at them. I love going to the Classic Boat Festival.

I am in general not a fan of tourism as an economic driver, but if one is to focus on tourism, the best bet it is to focus more on the wildly wealthy than anyone else. They not only offer more money per day, they also offer the lightest footprint per dollar on the environment and local infrastructure.

This marina is the right sort of use of the location, it is a smart type of marina to build, and it is first step in breathing any sort of life into the Songhees. It is also want has been in the visions for that location for 25 years now.
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