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Apr 6, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – April 6, 2023



Yesterday I drove my vehicle to Langara Golf Course, walked three blocks to catch the Canada Line train to downtown Vancouver, flew via Harbour Air to Vancouver Island, then jumped onto a Victoria Harbour Ferry for a unique onboard meeting with TIABC’s long-time member. My commute was literally a case of planes, trains and automobiles (along with a boat ride), although thankfully without the obstacles faced by Steve Martin and John Candy in the 1987 movie of the same name.

Aside from meeting with Darren van Slyke and Murray Anderson of Victoria Harbour Ferry, I also connected with Black Ball Ferry Line President Ryan Burles, and the new CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA), Robert Lewis-Manning.

Just two weeks into his role, Robert took the stage at an afternoon news conference alongside TIABC member CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) and Transportation Minister Rob Fleming where the province announced a $9 million contribution toward installing infrastructure at Ogden Point that would allow cruise ships to turn off their engines and instead access clean hydroelectricity while in port.

In the context of evaluating our member engagement objectives, yesterday’s announcement triggered a search of TIABC’s advocacy files to see how and where we championed initiatives like shore power in Victoria over the years. I’m pleased to say that TIABC has consistently advocated for new or improved infrastructure at both Ogden Point and Belleville Terminal, the latter of which also appears imminent after years of effort by multiple stakeholders.

The original price tag on Belleville Terminal improvements and expansion was pegged at approximately $200 million. It’s since ballooned to between an estimated $240 and $290 million (in today’s dollars), which is now out of reach for the two private operators (including Black Ball Ferry Line) that lease the facility should they be obligated to contribute one-third of a three-way cost split between the province, feds and private sector.

Regardless of who pays what, improvements to Belleville are desperately needed for ferry travel to and from Washington State to continue over the long term, especially considering the economic impact the M.V. Coho and this vital transportation hub generate for the region.

As for Victoria’s Harbour Ferry…like all small businesses, they too are feeling the pinch of rising operating costs that have impacted profit margins, especially outside of the peak tourism season since most passengers tend to be visitors to the city. That said, there are exciting plans to attract more locals to use this alternative and sustainable transportation option as opposed to driving. It’s a terrific idea that hopefully will be well supported by residents.

It stands to reason that our advocacy efforts vis-a-vis tourism infrastructure will continue on behalf of our members – Black Ball Ferry Line, Victoria Harbour Ferry, the GVHA and the cruise sector (CLIA) – for the foreseeable future.

It’s not often that my daily commute consists of planes, trains, automobiles and boats. I can’t wait for my next visit to Victoria to experience a similar journey and meet with another group of TIABC members to learn more about their challenges and how TIABC can advocate on their behalf.

Walt Judas,

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