Seaplane Operators Unite To Build Harbor Hub In Vancouver


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Seaplane Operators Unite To Build Harbor Hub In Vancouver

By Daniel Baxter

January 18, 2011 - Vancouver's commercial seaplane operators are applying to Port Metro Vancouver to construct a new multi-modal passenger terminal in Vancouver Harbor to serve seaplanes, helicopters and any future passenger ferries. 

The application is being spearheaded by the Vancouver Commercial Seaplane Operators' Association (VCSOA) representing eight seaplane companies who together transport 350,000 passengers to and from Vancouver Harbor annually. 

The multi-modal Harbor Hub is a necessary alternative to the proposed construction of a $22-million seaplane and marina facility at the north end of the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre Expansion.

The Convention Centre proposal would add at least $24 to ticket prices for every passenger taking a return seaplane trip to and from Vancouver Harbor in order to create profits for the private-sector developer. That proposal also offers no viable passenger pick-up and drop-off and has no immediate connection to public transit. 

"The Harbor Hub will be one of the most innovative and integrated seaplane terminals on the continent," said Greg McDougall, CEO of Harbor Air and President of the VCSOA. "We will operate cooperatively as a non-profit society." 

"Our terminal will not only provide a better passenger experience than the $22-million terminal being proposed by a private developer, but we will build it for substantially less," said McDougall. "We can build Vancouver a new tourist attraction and at the same time insulate our customers and operators from unnecessary fees and rate hikes." 

The Harbor Hub will be located on the eastern side of Canada Place, connecting the province's 4th busiest airport directly to Vancouver International Airport, the Canada Line, and all aspects of Vancouver's public transit system.

"Seaplane operators just can't absorb the unnecessary costs of the $22-million terminal now being proposed by a private developer at the Convention Centre site," said Mike Quinn, Vice-president of the VCOSA and owner of Whistler Air. "Our industry believes the Harbor Hub is a better solution for British Columbians and the seaplane industry."


Despite being slated for development for over five years, the developer of the proposed for-profit terminal at the Convention Centre has to date been unable to secure any seaplane industry tenants. "Anything that adds unnecessary costs to floatplane travel hurts the residents of the Gulf Islands and the island economy," said Philip Reece, director of Salt Spring Air. "The Harbor Hub is the solution to keeping ticket prices affordable." 

The Harbor Hub will provide a world-class experience and a covered walkway offering direct connections between modes of transportation including helicopters, buses, the Seabus, Skytrain, taxis and the nearby Canada Line.


Owned and operated on a not-for-profit basis, the Harbor Hub will help keep passengers' fares affordable through efficiencies such as shared check-in, baggage handling, parking and shuttles, waiting areas and other amenities. All revenue will be reinvested in the enhancement and operation of the Harbor Hub itself. 

The Harbor Hub will be designed to fit in with the historical use and architectural tradition of the Gastown waterfront, its neighborhood and Portside Park. Amenities such as food and beverage, viewing platforms and future bicycle paths will enhance and draw more people down to the historical waterfront area.

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