Thursday, September 09, 2010

Mega-Yacht Marina Project to Go Ahead

The developer behind the propsed mega-yacht marina planned for Victoria's Inner Harbour announced it will carry on with the project despite the city's rezoning of the marine lots that will limit the size of the marina and reduce its scope. As reported by the Victoria Times-Colonist this morning, "the company had wanted to build two one-storey commercial buildings on water lots they own at the site, along with a marina on a leased 2.63-hectare provincially owned water lot for 52 boats ranging in size from 65 to 135 feet. But after hearing from more than 40 speakers — mostly opposed to the size and scope of the proposed Victoria International Marina — Victoria councillors rezoned the water lot Tuesday night, effectively shrinking the number of slips that can be built to between 26 and 28 from the desired 52."
However, the spokesperson for the company now says that amenities planned to placate the local paddling community which, among other groups, has vigorously opposed the project may have to be scrapped. These include a kayak launch and landing dock, and paddler right of way through the marina. "It's hard to see where we can actually fit them," he said.
"There's not so much an obvious place now but we'll have a look. They were always a nice fit. We liked the idea of paddlers being able to stop in and have a coffee at the café or go visit friends. It gave a nice feel to the project."
(We liked the idea of being able to paddle in the area without risking getting run over by 135-foot yachts, and maintaining the way of life of the people who actually live in this city and use the harbour all year. But I digress.)
In an editorial on the subject, the Times-Colonist notes the failures of every level of government in dealing with this issue:
The last-minute decision is unfair to the proponents and the public. It sends a negative message to potential investors, who must now wonder if their efforts will be sabotaged by a last-minute change in the rules.
And the rezoning offers no assurance that the concerns raised by project opponents will be addressed.
The last-minute rezoning is the result of a series of failures. The city failed, over the years, to put in place proper zoning (apparently in part because the provincial government wasn't keen, though it's hard to see why that mattered). The federal government's review process failed to allow public input or address a wide range of concerns. The provincial government, as owner of a water lot necessary for the project, failed to consider the public interest in deciding whether to lease the property for the marina.
The biggest failure is the failure of all levels of government to not listen to the people they serve. We don't want a marina there. The provincial government is currently facing the consequences of not learning this lesson with the HST issue and its backlash -- the other levels of government would be wise to pay attention.

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