It took just 24 hours for the provincial government to reverse its support for BC Ferries’ proposal to close down a portion of the Horseshoe Bay terminal, which would effectively end the popular ferry service between West Vancouver and Nanaimio’s Departure Bay.
On Tuesday, the provincial government stated that it was considering the ferry corporation’s efficiency proposals to cut costs, but an about face was made Wednesday afternoon after it received a deluge of overwhelming negative responses to the idea from both government officials on Vancouver Island and the general public.
For instance, more than 2,500 people voted in Vancity Buzz’s non-scientific online poll on the matter, with 92.14 per cent (2,355 people) voting against the idea.
“The B.C. government has no interest in cancelling or seeing the cancellation of the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay run,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone.
“That’s an iconic run in British Columbia, very popular with locals and tourists and I think we’ve been very consistent in saying there’s no appetite whatsoever within the B.C. government to see BC Ferries cancel that run.”
The Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo ferry service is part of the Trans Canada Highway route. It is also one of the two ferry routes that create a profit, which is used to subsidize the operational costs of minor ferry routes.
Businesses in Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo depend on the direct and indirect economic spinoffs provided by the passengers and vehicles who use the major Vancouver Island ferry route.
Over the next 12 years, BC Ferries is spending more than $3-billion on major capital improvements for its ferry fleet and terminal infrastructure. This includes $200-million required for immediate term upgrades to Horseshoe Bay – the main reason cited for cutting the Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo ferry route in the recent efficiency report. Only minor ferry routes from Horseshoe Bay to the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island would remain.
Instead, Vancouver Island ferry passengers and vehicles would have to travel to Tsawwassen for the ferry to Nanaimo’s Duke Point terminal. The report claims that improved road infrastructure such as the recent opening of the South Fraser Perimeter Road (Highway 17) and the plans to build a 10-lane bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel will accommodate the increased traffic flow.
The required upgrades to Horseshoe Bay are currently scheduled to begin in 2018. BC Ferries says the terminal upgrade is the largest non-vessel capital expenditure over the next decade.
Feature Image: BC Ferries via Shutterstock