Victoria cuts size of mega-yacht marina

Victoria councillors voted unanimously to cut the size of mega-yacht marina by 40 per cent on Tuesday night, after hundreds of people turned out a five-hour long public hearing.

Victoria city councillors have voted unanimously to cut the size of mega-yacht marina by 40 per cent, after hundreds of people turned out a five-hour long public hearing Tuesday night.

Many who turned out opposed the plan to build the 52-slip marina and supported the city's plan to limit waterfront development in the city's popular downtown harbour.

The Victoria International Marina project would be situated on the Songhees waterfront on the north side of Victoria's Middle Harbour and would accommodate large luxury yachts up to 40 meters long.

But the proposal has encountered strong opposition from local residents, kayakers and others who fear the harbour will become overcrowded.

Resident Andrea Coulter told the council she believed the mega-yacht marina would harm the public good.

"It's not just about kayakers. It's not just about the residents of the Songhees. It's about all the residents of this whole city. We all use the downtown area, the harbour area, and we all enjoy its beauty.

The marina plan put forward by WAM Development was never submitted for council's consideration, but it has received federal approval and provincial support. But it still required a development permit from the Victoria city council.

But no federal or provincial representatives spoke at the public hearing. Instead the province gave its 30 minutes of speaking time to the development's general manager, Lachlan MacLean.

"We've spent five years and substantial sums of money, following all the rules, federal, provincial and municipal," MacLean told the meeting.

But the councillors were not swayed. Councillor John Luton criticized the higher levels of government for their lack of public consultation. Neither the federal nor provincial government has held public meetings on the marina proposal, and federal reports that approve the plan have not been released to the public.

"It has been somewhat of a frustration to have other levels of government who govern in a very isolated fashion or really address what is the public interest. I do not believe it is appropriate that matters of planning on land use, whether on the land or on the water, are done behind closed doors," said Luton

WAM Developments has not said whether it will pursue the creation of a scaled-down marina.