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Victoria Harbour Ferry shuts down amid dispute with harbour authority
VANCOUVER -- The Victoria Harbour Ferry Company says the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has dealt it "an unfortunate and insurmountable blow" by ending the company's dock access as of July 1.
In an email to customers and media Friday with the subject line "closed for business," the company's vice president of operations Barry Hobbis said the closure was the result of an inability to "collaborate on the terms of the company's operating agreement" with the GVHA.
"The GVHA has taken this step notwithstanding the company’s efforts to negotiate a fair and reasonable agreement with them," Hobbis wrote.
In response to the company's email, GVHA CEO Ian Robertson issued a statement saying the company had "refused to sign an agreement" with the harbour authority.
"Because of this they are unable to operate on our properties," Robertson said. "Agreements with GVHA are in place for insurance and legal purposes, as with any landlord-tenant arrangement.
"We regret that the owner has made the decision to suspend operations rather than work with us to sign an agreement," Robertson's statement continued. "For the past month, our management team had worked with Victoria Harbour Ferry to establish an agreement, without success. As a sign of good faith, we allowed Victoria Harbour Ferry to restart their operations while we worked through the agreement process."
The Victoria Harbour Ferry Company has been in operation for 30 years. It offered a water taxi service and tours of Victoria's Inner Harbour and Gorge Waterway, and had just recently returned to business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Hobbis.
"Victoria Harbour Ferry has been working to keep our company sustainable during the pandemic, and having just returned to some semblance of operation and hope that we will survive, this is an unfortunate and insurmountable blow to our recovery," he wrote in the email.
"We would like to thank our passengers, business partners, local community organizations, and the many stakeholders who have supported and advocated for our business over the past 30 years," Hobbis continued.