U.S. Consul General has high praise for Victoria’s Belleville Street ferry terminal

Retiring U.S. Consul General in Vancouver talks politics

Phillip Chicola … leaves in August

When Phillip Chicola packs his belongings and returns to his home south of the border in August, he said he plans to be an unofficial ambassador of everything Canadian.

After 33 years in the United States diplomatic corps – including the past three years as consul general at the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver – Chicola retires in August.

During a recent farewell media tour in Victoria, he said he won’t have to tell incoming consul general Ann Callaghan about issues facing Victoria’s Belleville Street ferry terminal.

“I have yet to hear any complaints about the ferry terminal,” he said of the Canadian facility, which is staffed by Americans. “(U.S. Customs and Board Protection staff) are very happy with it.”

That is good news because the bustling customs clearance terminal sees about one million passengers every year, serving as a vital gateway for cross-border trade and tourism.

“Maintaining that service is incredibly important and maintaining that link is incredibly important,” said Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to keep that service, we don’t want it to be in jeopardy,” he said. “It does require funding from the U.S. to keep it up there because they pay their own customs agents.”

That pre-clearance service is highly coveted by officials with the Victoria International Airport, and could become a reality if the number of passengers between Canada and the U.S. can be doubled from 150,000 to 300,000 a year.

That would make travel to the States far more efficient for tourists and business people, said Carter.

But it’s pricey for the U.S. government because Customs and Board Protection staff require bonus allowances for living aboard, as well as housing, said Chicola.

But until that ridership goal is achieved “no one is even going to talk about it,” Chicola said. “That’s a very expensive proposition for us.”

A large chunk of Chicola’s portfolio was the Olympic Games, but he has spent considerable time keeping his finger on the pulse of border issues and Canada-U.S. relations.

While Americans are now able to get their passports more quickly in about two weeks, benefitting tourism and business, relations between the two countries, though good, can be improved, he said.

“We in the States need to do a much better job telling people in the States about Canada,” said Chicola, who will spend his retirement teaching international relations at Florida State University.

More university exchange programs, in which American and Canadian students could switch schools for a semester, would help, he said.

“That small group of (students) would come away far more cognisant how the place where they are at works,” said Chicola.

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

Just Posted

Number of SD62 kindergarten registrations about same as last year

Approximately 850 kindergarten registrations for 2019/2020 school year

28 years later: Dunahee disappearance remains largest investigation in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

City of Langford mails out information on sewer connection requirement

Plan lays out obligations, exemptions and financial assistance information for the costly hookup

Update: BC Transit driver taken to hospital with serious injuries after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Most Read