British Columbia

Have a super-yacht? You could soon park it in Victoria's harbour

There's a new high-end real estate offering in Victoria for the world's wealthiest. After nearly a decade on planning, construction has started on a marina for super-yachts.

Single luxury yacht can inject up to $880K into Victoria economy, says concept's backer

Construction is underway on the $24-million Victoria International Marina for super-yachts. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

There's a new high-end real estate offering in Victoria for the world's wealthiest. After nearly a decade of planning, construction has started on a marina for super-yachts.

The $24-million Victoria International Marina will provide 28 slips for luxury vessels that are between 20 and 46 metres long. That means the largest yachts that park at the new marina will be bigger than the Clipper passenger ferry that operates in Victoria's harbour.

The company behind the project hopes to capitalize on what it describes as a shortage of super-yacht moorage on the B.C. Coast.

"There really isn't any slips left of that size on the island. Even in Vancouver they are in minimum supply," Craig Norris, CEO of Community Marine Concepts, told host Gregor Craigie on CBC Radio's On The Island.

The Victoria International Marina in Vic West will be able to accommodate yachts that are up to 150 feet long. 8:51

The marina hopes to be home base for some yachts by offering a 40-year lease for seven of the slips. The remaining spots will be available for visiting vessels, Norris said.

"We hope to really bring visitors to Victoria. There is a lot of transient moorage that will take place, usually during the summer time, when all boats are out and moving around."

A single luxury yacht, even just sitting in the harbour, injects between $700,000 and $800,000 into the local economy each year for services such as maintenance, gas, and moorage, Norris said. 

When the yachts visit as part of their travels, those economic benefits jump even more, he added.

Amenities at the marina are expected to include a coffee shop and restaurant, which will be open to the public.

Community opposition

It hasn't been smooth sailing to get the marina project to this point. The concept received approval from Transport Canada back in 2012, but it has taken until now to start construction.

Critics have raised concerns about the size, location, and impact on safety in the busy harbour. The marina design has changed several times to address concerns and comply with regulations, the company said.

Still, some harbour users remain skeptical about the concept. 

The Victoria International Marina is located in front of condo buildings and a public walkway in Victoria's Vic West neighbourhood. (Community Marine Concepts )

Victoria's harbour is already filled with ferries, float planes and recreational paddlers, and the addition of a marina full of super-yachts will change the character, said Barry Hobbis, vice-president of operations for Victoria Harbour Ferry.

"In my view, it is all folly," he said. "It's not well thought out. It's not well planned, and I am not at all confident that there is a 65-foot yacht owner that has pre-paid his moorage at that facility."

But some who live near the marina are looking forward to having new infrastructure in the area, such as a coffee shop and restaurant, Norris said.

"There's been a large amount of support. I will call it the silent majority over there, that are really interested in adding some infrastructure to their neighbourhood," he said.

The super-yacht marina is set to open in the spring of 2017.