Songhees marina development gets green light from feds

Estimated $20 million project could be open by summer 2014

With the last outstanding permit finally in hand, developers of a controversial luxury yacht marina hope to start construction near Lime Bay by early next summer.

On Oct. 11, Transport Canada issued an approval under the federal Navigable Waters Protection Act to proponent WAM Development Group. The only hurdle remaining is an interior building permit from the City of Victoria.

“It should be straightforward,” project lead Larry Halgren said of the plan. He expects construction to take 10 to 12 months.

The federal permit is bad news for a number of interest groups who have opposed the project. They include the Vic West Community Association, kayaking groups and others who have argued the marina will block views, restrict water access for boaters and presents a safety hazard to an already congested harbour.

In 2010, the City of Victoria addressed some of those concerns by imposing a compromise: it down-zoned the provincially owned water lot between Paul Kane Place and Cooperage Place in the Songhees neighbourhood, effectively cutting the proposed marina in half.

The new plan includes 29 slips for yachts ranging from 20 to 33.5 metres in length and one for a vessel up to 46 metres. It also calls for two commercial buildings to jut out from the Westsong Walkway, with possible space for a coffee shop and restaurant. There will also be a channel for rowers and paddlers running along the walled shoreline.

Still uncertain is whether the marina will include a public dock for kayakers. The amenity was included in the original plan, but WAM has not committed to incorporating the dock into the smaller marina.

Slips will be available for purchase, rather than for rent.

“You purchase a slip, which is a long-term lease and it’s good for 44 years,” Halgren said. “We haven’t established the prices yet.”

Once the company determines its construction costs for the marina – currently estimated at somewhat less than $20 million – the prices will be set, he said.

The marina must conform to several safety parameters set by Transport Canada as a condition of its navigable waters permit. They include increased harbour patrols and the provision of rescue equipment along the paddling route.

WAM must also install a strobe light at the marina entrance, to flash as vessels come and go, as well as two yellow lights at either end of the marina which must flash every four seconds, from dusk until dawn.

“Being a good neighbour, we’re going to try to be sure that all of our lights will not be light pollution to any of our neighbours,” Halgren said.

rholmen@vicnews.com

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