Fate of MV Coho in Victoria’s Inner Harbour up to province, city mayor’s office says

VICTORIA – The next step for the Belleville Street redevelopment proposal that includes elimination of the MV Coho ferry terminal is up to the province of British Columbia.

That’s the word Wednesday from Marnie Mayhew, executive assistant to Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe.

“The city has an interest in this, but the province owns the land, so it is absolutely up to the province.

“The city would have a regulatory role to play if the land needed to be rezoned, which would come before the City Council,” she said.

The $100 million “Vision for Belleville” waterfront redevelopment proposal was presented to the Victoria City Council on Monday.

It includes a new passenger ferry terminal, landmark hotel and restoration of the historic Canadian Pacific building that houses the Royla London Wax Museum next to the current Coho terminal – but removes the Coho terminal.

(The latest developments appear on the Victoria Times Colonist Web site. Click here: www.timescolonist.com)

The 341-foot-long Coho – operated by Black Ball Transport Inc., a U.S. business – can carry 1,000 passengers and 110 vehicles.

It operates year-round, crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Port Angeles and Victoria.

It has carried 511,000 people on average annually for the past 15 years, said Black Ball Vice President Ryan Burles.

Mayhew said the Belleville Terminal Task Force that produced the report was created by the mayor – who is now on vacation – but that the mayor has been working with the Tourism, Sport and the Arts Ministry on the issue.

So the report was prepared with Tourism Minister Stan Hagen’s full approval and support, she said.

“The city will be an interested party and stakeholder but ultimately it’s up to the province because it’s their land,” Mayhew said.

The 6.91 acres of waterfront land eyed for redevelopment in the presentation is owned by the Provincial Capital Commission, which holds it in trust for the people of British Columbia.

The commission is overseen by the Tourism, Sport and the Arts Ministry.

It is headed by Minister Stan Hagen, who is now on vacation.

When contacted Wednesday about the redevelopment proposal, Tourism Ministry spokesman Charles Suenderman said, “Talk to the city, because its their project. The city commissioned the report, not us.

“They’ve given the report to us to review, but that will take a while,” he said.

“We’ll see what we can do, but officially we haven’t even seen the report yet.”

Suenderman said he didn’t know when the ministry might finish reviewing the report, but suggested checking back at the end of August.

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