"It's devastating," Victoria Harbour Ferry ceases operations over contract dispute
A staple of Victoria's Inner Harbour will be missing from the waterways this summer.
The Victoria Harbour Ferry, which runs tours, pub crawls, water taxis and dances the famous 'water ballet' announced Thursday that they will be ceasing operations due to a contract dispute with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
According to the company's owner, Barry Hobbis, they were not able to collaborate on an agreement with the GVHA and because of that, the authority is shutting down the ferry's access to Fisherman's Wharf and Empress Floats as of June 30th.
"They are primary stops for us and support the majority of our business, so without access to that, despite what we've tried to do to come back over the past three months after this pandemic, we just can't. It technically means that, I guess after 30 years we're out of business," said Hobbis.
The GVHA says it is unfortunate that the ferry has refused to sign an agreement with them, but without one, they cannot operate on GVHA property.
"Agreements with GVHA are in place for insurance and legal purposes, as with any landlord-tenant arrangement," the statement says.
"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. 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."
In order to preserve confidentiality, Hobbis did not want to comment on the nitty gritty of the contract disagreement, but did say that the GVHA gave them a nine month contract instead of their usual three years, making it impossible for the company to plan long term.
"400,000 passengers a year, 105 employees, almost all of whom are now retired, and for the sake of not wanting to sit down and go through an agreement, it all comes to this. It's just like COVID 19 again, it just all grinds to a halt and we're done."
Hobbis' voice cracked with emotion as he thanked all the customers he's had over 30 years in business.
"I just want to say thank you to everybody in the community, every person that has worked with us, every passenger that has been on board. Thank you."