A Damen Fast Ferry 3209. BC Ferries are considering buying five of the vessels. (Courtesy of Damen)

Colwood passenger ferry plan makes small waves

Recommendation for Colwood Council to support, in principle, ferry at Royal Bay

Plans for a West Shore passenger ferry are slowly sailing ahead.

At a City of Colwood committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, a recommendation was made for council to support in principle the location of a passenger ferry terminal on the Royal Bay waterfront, subject to further studies.

Studies would include looking at potential impacts to the shoreline and the capacity of transportation infrastructure.

BC Ferries is interested in providing a passenger ferry service from Royal Bay to downtown Victoria.

A pre-feasibility study from SNC-Lavalin highlighted that a solution to traffic jams — commonly known as the Colwood crawl — could be a fast-catamaran ferry that could carry about 300 passengers and maintain a speed of 25 knots. The study also recommended the ferry terminal would need to accommodate parking for about 250 vehicles as well as a bus platform.

READ ALSO: Colwood, Esquimalt mayors support potential passenger commuter ferry

A staff report presented at Tuesday’s committee meeting says Colwood staff “received an application to revise the development concept for the Royal Bay waterfront described as Royal Beach.” The revised concept identifies a site for a future ferry terminal, according to the report, but specifications are dependent on more studies conducted by BC Ferries.

Staff also need to conduct further studies and analysis to determine the impact of the terminal on beach erosion, public access to the waterfront and if the road network can handle an expected increase in traffic.

“A ferry from Royal Beach in Colwood to downtown Victoria has the potential to take about 1,000 vehicles out of the commute, as well as being a unique excursion for tourists,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin in a statement.

Councillors at the committee meeting acknowledged the passenger ferry is a unique idea to ease traffic woes but said much more needs to be studied before moving full steam ahead.

READ ALSO: Colwood mayor pitches ferry as commuter alternative

“I think the idea of having a ferry to Victoria from our waterfront is very attractive,” said Coun. Michael Baxter. “But as the study makes clear there are an awful lot of things that need to be studied.”

A key issue noted by all councillors was the effects of the ferry terminal on the lagoon in terms of beach erosion as well as the quality of the waterfront for residents. Other concerns were how much ferry tickets would cost — including how much of the ticket would be subsidized — as well as how the ferry will link up with buses.

Coun. Gordie Logan noted that the current traffic issues are not acceptable and that new solutions need to be explored.

“Being creative is almost a requirement if we’re going to continue to grow,” Logan said.

While discussions are being brought to the table in regards to a passenger ferry, residents may be waiting a while before they see any major movement, according to Martin.

“Royal Beach offers some of the most beautiful waterfront on the Island, so there would need to be some creative thinking to design a terminal with adequate parking and transportation connections,” Martin said in a statement. “Any proposal of this magnitude is going to be years in the making.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


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