Victoria’s Inner Harbour will see a small new fleet starting in April.
The Wilsons Group is launching the Victoria Electric Boat Company and will have between four and six hop-on, hop-off boat tours running through the Inner and Upper Harbours. The 12-person vessels will be created by Kelowna-based Templar Electric, and offer guided tours between four to six locations throughout the day.
“We’re very excited about it,” said John Wilson, president and CEO of the Wilsons Group, who added that the vessels they’ll be offering are different from the long-standing Harbour Ferries. “It’s much larger and easier to get in and out of, and with an onboard washroom it allows us to offer dinner cruises as well.”
Wilson said that while discussions are in their early phases, Wilsons is hoping to partner with local business to offer an evening wining and dining experience through the Gorge waterway. So far early talks have included the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
Prices have not been decided, though Wilson guessed a hop-on, hop-off day pass for the boats would likely sit in the mid-$20 range. Much like the company’s hop-on, hop-off double-decker buses, the boats will have a recording to share the history of the area, as well as an informed skipper to answer questions.
For 29 years Victoria Harbour Ferry has been the sole company offering Inner Harbour and Gorge tours, as well as water taxis and pickle boat pub crawl tours.
“Victoria Harbour Ferry welcomes a new hop-on/hop-off service in the harbour,” said Barry Hobbis, partner and vice-president of operations, in an emailed statement. “Our all-electric boats have serviced the Gorge waterway for the past five years and we’re proud of our contribution to the protection of the seabed, wildlife and the ecology of the Gorge.”
The new Wilsons vessels are expected to arrive in April 2020. If all goes well in its first season, Wilsons will look at doubling the number of boats on the water.
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