Photo shows pre-handrail status of the Ogden Point breakwater. The safety project was completed in 2013. Courtesy Greater Victoria Harbour Authority

Ogden Point breakwater centennial marked in Victoria

$350,000 in Heritage Canada funding will help complete further enhancements to iconic walkway

Area residents and visitors helped mark the centennial of the Ogden Point breakwater with a neighbourhood breakfast on Saturday.

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the completion of the breakwater in 1917 followed news last week that a matching $350,000 grant from Canadian Heritage, part of the federal Canada 150 funding, had been secured by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which manages the site.

“We found out about this and figured the breakwater would be the perfect project to apply this to,” said GVHA communications spokesperson Jill Sawyer, noting the grant was applied for earlier this year.

The funds are designated to go toward further enhancing the breakwater experience for users, with such ideas as better lighting, a viewing platform and the commissioning of a Lekwungen carving among those being tossed about, she said.

Improvements to the breakwater are designed to dovetail into the greater Ogden Point terminal plan, which is working its way through the City of Victoria planning process.

Historically, city planners began investigating the idea of building a breakwater to protect nearby docks at Rithet’s Point (current site of the Canadian Coast Guard station) after the Panama Canal opened in 1913 and brought the potential for a greater number of ships docking in Victoria.

The need for a deepwater port to take advantage of that added traffic was acknowledged and by the time the final 15-ton granite blocks were placed for the breakwater in 1917, work had already begun on building new docks at Ogden Point.

The breakwater itself was engineered so well that only minor repairs have been needed over its lifespan. Handrails were installed along its upper walkway edges in 2013 to increase safety, and in 2015, Esquimalt and Songhees artists finished painting the First Nations mural known as Na’Tsa’Maht.

Saturday’s gathering was a positive way to celebrate the connection between the community and the iconic piece of marine architecture, Sawyer said.

“It’s really a big part of the community. We wanted [the breakfast] to be for those people who are out walking their dogs and enjoying the morning.”

The public will have a chance to see the ideas for the breakwater enhancements as the project moves forward, she added.

editor@vicnews.com

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