An iconic water taxi approaches Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf (Jennifer Blyth/Black Press Media)

An iconic water taxi approaches Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf (Jennifer Blyth/Black Press Media)

Victoria harbour authority, ferries at impasse over operating agreement

June 30 set to be final day for Victoria Harbour Ferry fleet

Waterway travellers will be down a mode of transportation as the Victoria Harbour Ferry docks until further notice.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority says the ferry company refused to sign an operating agreement required for insurance and legal purposes. Without that, the small ferries can’t operate on GVHA properties such as the Causeway Marina (at the Inner Harbour in front of the Empress hotel) and Fisherman’s Wharf.

“We regret that the owner has made the decision to suspend operations rather than work with us to sign an agreement. For the past month, our management team had worked with Victoria Harbour Ferry to establish an agreement, without success,” reads a statement from Ian Robertson, CEO of the GVHA.

“As a sign of good faith, we allowed Victoria Harbour Ferry to restart their operations while we worked through the agreement process. We look forward to working with this company when their agreement is signed.”

READ ALSO: Harbour authority CEO charts course for return of cruise ships to post-pandemic Victoria

The causeway and wharf properties make up about 80 per cent of the infrastructure used by the Victoria Harbour Ferry, said owner and managing partner Barry Hobbis.

“I’ll be looking for some people to buy some used boats I guess,” Hobbis said, emotion slipping into his voice during the Friday afternoon phone interview with Black Press Media. Hobbis said he wanted to discuss the latest agreement with the GVHA and come to some “common ground” in the latest terms. Chief among the concerns is the nine-month agreement with no options for renewal and future business planning.

“All I wanted today was an opportunity to discuss the terms and remove the letter of termination until we had discussed the terms,” said Hobbis, who has been with the company 18 of its 30 years.

“As the little guy I have to stand up and say I would rather shut my business down than put a whole bunch of people at risk.”

The GVHA said it has worked to support several commercial tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating rent deferral programs and applying for the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program to provide further aid.

The little ferry service started offering limited operations about a month ago, with pandemic protocols in place, and starting the work without an agreement. The GVHA allowed for that, offering a June 30 deadline to sign.

Due to the suspension of cruises in Canada until Oct. 31 the GVHA expects to drop about 70 per cent of its forecasted revenues, or $12.5 million, for the fiscal year.

“For our organization to operate without agreements in place with our commercial tenants only puts us at further risk,” Robertson said.

Hobbis doesn’t see a way forward, with June 30 the last day of operation, but the GVHA is still hopeful to have the little ferries continue charting a course from the causeway.



c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Inner Harbour

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read