Colwood’s new mayor is looking to get the conversation going about a commuter ferry from Royal Bay to Victoria.
Mayor Rob Martin said it was one of his campaign promises and he’s making good on it.
“We have to start looking at alternative solutions and I’m talking about long-term solutions,” Martin said.
With West Shore communities growing rapidly, Martin said different ways of getting downtown need to be considered, especially when there is limited land to build roads on.
“We can’t constantly just be building roads, [they] aren’t the long-term solution to our transportation issues,” Martin said. “No matter which way we do it we have to move people into public transportation.”
Martin said he is hoping to create a groundswell from the public so that more discussion and debate about a potential ferry can begin.
He wants to hear public feedback — both positive and negative — to see if a ferry could be a viable project.
Martin said the city also needs to look at how financially feasible it would be to build the infrastructure needed for a commuter ferry. He said it will likely be an expensive project that will need to be subsidized by the public and will require the efforts of many groups.
“This is not just about the City of Colwood, there’s a huge number of stakeholders we would need to engage,” Martin said.
Martin said the city would need to see what kind of interest the provincial government has in commuter ferries as well as municipalities like Esquimalt and Victoria.
But Martin said the plus-side to a ferry is that once the infrastructure is built, more ferries can be added down the line to move more people off the highway.
Martin said many people are very frustrated with hour-long commutes into Victoria. He added the McKenzie interchange has also elevated frustrations and doesn’t think people will be able to deal with traffic issues long-term.
Regardless of whether or not the ferry idea goes through, Martin said the city needs to start finding other ways to move people around.
“We can disagree with how we fix the problem but at least we’re all understanding that … there’s a level of frustration that isn’t bearable long-term,” Martin said. “People are desperate to talk about alternative solutions.”