Aging Blue Boats ferry hundreds of CFB Esquimalt workers from Colwood to the base each day. It remains unclear if the service will continue if when the boats need refurbishment or replacement.

Future of Blue Boat service in doubt

CFB Esquimalt’s Blue Boat service, which has been shuttling defence employees between Colwood and Esquimalt military properties for years,

The fate of CFB Esquimalt’s Blue Boat service, which has been shuttling military and civilian defence employees between Colwood and Esquimalt military properties for years, has not been decided.

But there are concerns amidst rumours that the base’s oldest operating vessels, which are more than 50 years old, might not be repaired and returned to Esquimalt Harbour if they ever require servicing.

That prompted View Royal’s council to write to Josée Touchette, Ottawa-based assistant deputy minister of the Department of National Defence, in November, urging the department “to maintain a reliable level of blue boat service in the Esquimalt Harbour, and … that a timely replacement plan for the aging fleet is implemented to ensure the long-term viability of this regional service.”

Spearheaded by View Royal Coun. John Rogers, but sent under a council banner, the letter was meant to show support for a service “that makes a difference to those who are enabled by it,” said View Royal Mayor Graham Hill. “It may indeed be something that is a privilege rather than a (right).”

“Currently no official decision has been made regarding the future of the Blue Boat service and its longer-term maintenance,” navy Lt. Michael McWhinnie, base public affairs officer, said.

The primary role of the Blue Boats is not to ferry commuting personnel. The vessels act as a “shuttle facilitating the internal movement of personnel between various defence properties adjacent to Esquimalt Harbour,” McWhinnie said.

Without it, hundreds of personnel living on the West Shore would be forced back on the gridlocked Trans-Canada and Island highways, an idea that has some people very concerned.

The Blue Boat service is “critical” to keeping more people off the roads, said Dan Spinner, CEO of the WestShore Chamber of Commerce. “And we hope that the base maintains it. It’s an important contribution to the local and regional transportation system.”

The vessels make 13 runs per day, Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., attracting a total daily ridership of about 800 passengers. Upwards of 9,000 passengers used the service in one month earlier this year.

An estimated 46 per cent of personnel are affected by the “crawl,” according to base data. There are more than 480 housing units at Colwood’s Belmont Park, the largest military housing community on the South Island.

Given Ottawa’s history of making decisions about the base without feedback on local issues that affect local communities, “there’s always a concern with the Blue Boat disappearing,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

This could happen if the government sees the service as an add-on and not valued for its contribution to the region or to hundreds of military and civilian defence commuters, she said.

More traffic on clogged transportation corridors doesn’t bode well for BC Transit buses already struggling to keep to their schedules.

“Because of the increased congestion and construction we’ve seen across the Capital Region, our buses have slowed down from 25 to 20 kilometres an hour,” Joanna Linsangan, BC Transit’s manager of public relations, said in a statement.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Furry, four-legged donors make their way to doggy blood drive in Langford

WAVES and Canadian Animal Blood Bank host blood drive for dogs

VicPD confirms wolf sighting in James Bay

Police ask that children and pets be taken inside

Colwood hosts open house on future of Royal Bay community

Event takes place on Jan. 22 at Royal Bay Secondary from 6 to 8 p.m.

Sidney woman promises to pay back anonymous donor who covered her back rent

Zora Hlevnjak faced eviction after refusing to repay money earned collecting cans

Annual Salmon Carcass Transplant draws Saanich residents to Douglas Creek

More than 100 frozen salmon tossed into the creek as part of ecological restoration

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

VIDEO: Drone footage shows extent of damage in Highway 4 rockslide

Tofino, Ucluelet still cut off from rest of the island, as crews work to repair roadway

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Most Read