A passenger ferry service to Victoria is coming. But it isn’t aimed at locals

The catamaran service, pictured here near Brisbane, will start with a soft launch this summer.

Plus, the other side of the assessment story and the low price of copper leads to layoffs

Slow cruise
An Australian company plans to launch a passenger catamaran service between Vancouver and Victoria as early as this summer. On Tuesday, Victoria’s harbour authority announced it had reached a lease agreement with Riverside Marine—an operator of ferry services, barge towing and day cruises in Australia—for the now-vacant Steamship Terminal, across the street from the Legislature in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The company plans to run the service on a 300-passenger catamaran, with full operations in the 2017 summer season.

But if you’re looking to get to Victoria on the cheap, it might not be the best option. Ticket prices, yet to be decided, will start at around $80, according to comments a spokesperson made to NEWS 1130—and will be aimed principally at tourists. And for that, passengers will get a three-and-a-half-hour narrated scenic cruise through the Gulf Islands—as opposed to the 20-minute point-to-point float plane services that start at around the same price.

The other side of the assessment story
B.C. homeowners, or at those looking to sell, should be a happy bunch. Assessed values for detached homes in the Lower Mainland, in fact most areas of the province, were up in most areas between five and 15 per cent. There were, however exceptions.

The assessed value of condominiums in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove, in parts of New Westminster and in Maple Ridge—all areas of abundant new construction—either fell or increased below the rate of inflation. Further afield, In Langley, Surrey and Maple Ridge, the assessed value of many townhouses hovered below the rate of inflation, and in some cases fell.

Elsewhere in B.C., there were other cities, mostly resource communities, where assessed values fell and in some cases significantly. In Kitimat values were down 12 per cent from last year, in Mackenzie down 3 per cent and in the Rockies in Trail, down 6 per cent. The most precipitous fall goes to Tumbler Ridge, the coal mining community hit hard by closures, where prices where assessed values fell 34 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

Tarnished copper
Faced with a prolonged fall in the price of copper, Vancouver-based Imperial Metals plans to lay off half its workforce at its Huckleberry Mine, a copper mine 250 kilometres west of Prince George. Imperial, which was recently permitted to reopen its Mount Polley copper and gold mine (site of a dam breach in 2014), owns a 50 per cent interest in the mine; the remaining 50 per cent is owned by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and other Japanese partners. Copper was trading at US$2.52 per pound on Wednesday, hovering just above a 52-week low.