In response to a general desire to repair, enhance and revitalize the entire southern edge of Victoria’s Downtown Inner Harbour, a privately funded urban design study was commissioned. Our mandate was to accommodate a balance of public space and amenities, along with private marine and non-marine uses, both existing and new. The overriding concept was to reconnect and make accessible this long-segregated, vehicle-dominated and somewhat derelict water’s edge land.
The continuation of the international port function is proposed within a lower dock-level structure across the entire site. This includes vehicle and passenger ferry staging and service facilities as well as enhanced international customs and security functions. A dramatic, tiered full-service hotel and restaurant complex anchors the scheme at the western end of this Belleville Street-level podium and is considered the main economic engine for the development of the highly public street-level site. At the east end of the site, a restored neoclassical building, formerly a CP ferry terminal, would again become the departure and arrival hall for the new transportation facility.
Beside the new terminal and above the dock-level transportation facility, an aboriginal cultural centre, kiosks, cafés, street-front shops and restaurants would define the north side of Belleville Street. Along with a large park and amphitheatre with seating facing the harbour, these amenities would serve to revitalize the southern harbour front and extend the Inner Harbour public water’s edge to Laurel Point. This major waterfront park would accommodate year-long programmed gatherings, performances, music and cultural festivals.
The scheme presents a compelling approach to making a public urban waterfront in harmony with a practical and viable commercial and quasi-industrial core transportation function.