Long-delayed plans for Fulford ferry terminal improvements were once again a topic of discussion between the Salt Spring Ferry Advisory Committee and BC Ferries, who held their fall public meeting at the Harbour House Hotel on Thursday.
FAC chair Harold Swierenga raised Fulford as an issue of concern, noting that although terminal upgrades have been on the books for the past decade or more, the terminal does not show up among the 12 projects listed as having an active development plan on the BC Ferries website. Ferry traffic that blocks regular vehicle traffic in and out of Fulford village on busy sailings meanwhile continues to pose a public safety issue, he said.
“Can somebody tell us where it stands and where we’re going here with it? Because this has been a very discouraging exercise over the years,” Swierenga said. “The problem identified with the road is still very much there . . . In the summertime it’s still a very critically dangerous situation.”
A master plan that BC Ferries presented in July 2011 included two phases of improvement. It was to start with the short-term solution of developing Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure right-of-way on Fulford-Ganges Road as a holding lane, and was to include a marked shoulder for pedestrians. Work was intended to begin as early as spring 2013.
By 2015 that plan had not advanced and was deemed to have become too complicated, with costs projected to be at least 10 times the original estimate. BC Ferries announced an accelerated project instead that would skip straight to phase two. It would eliminate the need for an on-road holding lane by extending the terminal compound space to fit 145 vehicles plus a bus turnaround and a passenger pick-up/drop-off area. The upgrade was expected to be completed for 2018-19.
Work failed to advance once again due to complications with a private property the ferry corporation would need to purchase to complete the terminal expansion.
BC Ferries executives said they weren’t sure why Fulford terminal didn’t appear on the website, as the plan is still active despite the ongoing challenge in property negotiations.
“If you look at our statements, the terminal development plan is supposed to be wrapping up in this fiscal year, in March,” said public affairs manager Darin Guenette, adding the physical changes to the space are slated to be done in four years or fiscal 2022-23. The next steps after the terminal development plan is finished this year are detailed design and costing, and then construction.
Terminal development plans for Crofton and Vesuvius are currently underway. Members of the public can view draft concepts and submit survey input on two options proposed for Crofton here.
For more on this story, see the Nov. 6, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.
Regarding Fulford Harbour and BC Ferries, since the ferry corporation is/has obvious problems with a property owner, perhaps the Ferry Corporation may consider another option. I have drawn up a map using satellite photos, rendering a roadway and ferry ramping off of Drummond Park. Now I can hear everyone, but it does make sense. That would leave the existing BC Ferry dock to be used as parking and whatever else Fulford wanted.
If you look at the terminal upgrade plans for Crofton, what I am proposing is something similar. In the 2nd option for Crofton they plan to use the old BC Ferries dock for a market and for Crofton residents. That could also happen for Fulford.