PA mayor plans meeting with Victoria officials

PORT ANGELES – Mayor Karen Rogers has organized a meeting between civic leaders here and from Victoria on Friday, part of which will be onboard the MV Coho and part over lunch on the Port Angeles waterfront.

She said the meeting will be a “long overdue conversation” about the future of the two cities connected by a ferry route that may be in the jeopardy.

Rogers and members of the City Council are expected to take the 8:20 a.m. ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, pick up Mayor Alan Lowe and members of his council, and ride the 10:30 a.m. ferry back to Port Angeles.

The group has scheduled a two-hour lunch at The Landing restaurant, then the Canadians will catch the 2 p.m. ferry back to Vancouver Island.

There is a lot to fit into the brief time the leaders will have together, Rogers said.

On the Friday morning sailing to Port Angeles, the civic leaders will be able to ask Black Ball Transportation, the private ferry’s owners, about the history of the MV Coho, its role in regional transportation and its business.

Whether the large vehicle and passenger ferry will be able to continue docking in Victoria’s Inner Harbour is in doubt considering current plans for revitalization of the harbor’s south side from a task force commissioned by Lowe.

The plans, which were made public in early August, show the Coho terminal and adjacent car-truck gathering area would be replaced with a high-rise hotel and a new passenger ferry landing.

The Canadian Pacific building, next door to the Coho terminal, which now houses the Royal London Wax Museum, would be renovated with restaurants and other tourist attractions.

“Not only is it important to us, it should be very important to them,” Rogers said.

“It puts $500,000 in their town, a tremendous value to Victoria. I’m not sure they understand the economic impact if the Coho moves to Sidney.”

Sidney, where the Washington State Ferries route from Anacortes ends, is about 16 miles to the northeast of Victoria.

Rogers said she wants her meeting on Friday to be about more than ferries.

She hopes to discuss economic issues, such as capitalizing on the 2010 winter Olympics to be held in Vancouver and getting more visitors to take “two-nation vacations” – efforts that could lead to an “economic shared strategy between the two cities,” she said.

She also wants an update on Victoria’s efforts to stop dumping its untreated wastewater into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“Here we are spending millions and millions of dollars for water quality and salmon restoration, and here we have raw sewage,” Rogers said.

As of this weekend, Rogers said she was not sure which council members may join her, but she did not think a quorum would ride the ferry with her.

If there is a quorum at the lunch meeting, the council would have to declare that in advance.

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