SS Valencia boards
(photo by Victoria Buzz)

The Maritime Museum of BC announced on Tuesday that they have decided to withdraw from development plans with the City of Langford for a new Pacific Maritime Centre.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the leading cause for the decision, the Museum says that the current economic climate makes the project unsuitable for their needs.

“The City of Langford looked forward to welcoming the Maritime Museum to Langford, however we understand and support their decision to seek out a waterfront location,” said Langford Mayor Stewart Young. “We wish them all the best with this project moving forward.”

The President of the Maritime Museum, Jamie Webb, told Victoria Buzz in an interview that they will be exploring other options to keep their operations in Victoria.

“It became evident towards the end of 2020, that the plan as it was developed in Langford wasn’t going to work for us at this time,” Webb said.

“We’re hunkering down downtown, we’re hoping to have a solid plan of action within 12 months, whether that’s a renovation or partnership.”

Currently, the museum is operating on a month-to-month lease at a location on Humboldt Street, just off Douglas.

The space is limited, however, and Webb says that many artifacts are being held in a storage and research space that is inaccessible to the public.

With a new space, the priority would be to bring as much of the collection out from storage as possible for the public to enjoy.

“We have almost 500 members, and they’re super keen after 5 years since we left Bastion Square to get our exhibit space back out in the open again,” Webb says.

“We think it’s important that post-pandemic we create some new tourism opportunities and products for Victoria. We think we’re well-positioned to participate in that.”

Ideally, the museum board is hoping that the Maritime Museum can remain close to the harbour. They are actively seeking partnerships and opportunities, and Webb says that since the news broke on Tuesday some organizations and individuals have already reached out.

“We have a number of opportunities that we’re exploring,” he says, adding that any interested parties can reach out to the museum to start a dialogue.

Currently, the Maritime Museum of BC is showing an exhibition on the SS Valencia, a passenger steamer that suffered a nautical disaster on the coast of Vancouver Island.

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