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PA-Victoria ferry gets new lease

April 4th, 2014 - 5:11am

(Victoria) -- The ferry M-V Coho has won a 3-year lease at the Belleville Street dock in downtown Victoria.

The Victoria Times Colonist reports owners of both the Coho and the Victoria Clipper ferry companies are hoping for long-term leases after the latest three-year term.

The paper reported this week that the relatively short leases are designed to give British Columbia's Ministry of Transportation time to assess and plan for the future of the aging Belleville docks, used by the ferries carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers every year.

Leases between the province and the two companies, expire this year. The Transportation Ministry recently took over the Belleville site in Victoria Harbour.

The property was previously owned by the Provincial Capital Commission, which is being dissolved by the province to save money. Presidents of both ferry companies — Ryan Burles of Black Ball Ferry Line, owner of the Coho, and Darrell Bryan of the Victoria Clipper — said they are pleased the ministry has taken on the job of managing the docks, given its experience and expertise in handling major projects.

Burles says that ideally, the Coho dock would be replaced in the next two to three years.

He told the newspaper, “We want a long-term lease and we are confident that we’ll get one, and get a dock that will last for 75 years, whether it be for us, or for anybody.”

Discussions are continuing for a new Clipper lease, also at three years. Both companies provide significant economic benefits locally.

The Coho carries almost 400-thousand passengers annually between Victoria and Port Angeles.

A province statement says the Coho generates more than 120-million dollars in economic activity on Vancouver Island each year.

The statement says the province will “carry out an engineering assessment of the wharves used by these ferries to determine their condition, remaining lifespan and what repairs are needed. This information will be used to develop a plan for these assets, based on the scope and cost of repairs.”

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone said, “The MV Coho ferry supports local tourism, economic development and provides an important service for families and communities. “Extending the lease is the first step in developing a long-term partnership and plan to improve the infrastructure, so this important service can continue.”

The Belleville Ferry Terminal lands are being looked at within the Vancouver Island Transportation Strategy developed to enhance the movement of people and goods via sea, land, air and rail.

Further, the terminal property is being examined within the province’s overall 10-year transportation plan.

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