Viewpoint: Ferry issues updated

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The following is a summer update from David Courtney of the Patrons of Route 6 group.

Raising Awareness

1. April 3, 2022: MLA – Adam Olsen graciously tabled the Fix for Route Six petition in the BC Legislature on our behalf. Approximately 2,100 people (and counting) have signed the petition,

2. May 3, 2022: Brian Anderson, BC Ferries vice-president, strategy and community engagement, came with eight other BCF employees to meet with the Salt Spring Island Ferry Advisory Committee. We were given five minutes to speak at the end of their meeting. First time on Salt Spring Island in quite some time.

3. June 22, 2022: BC Ferries board of directors met for two and a half days at the Harbour House Hotel. It was a first for Salt Spring Island and the first time the board has met in person in almost three years due to the pandemic. The board sponsored a meet and greet for those closely concerned about our ferry issues. The presidents of the Chemainus, Duncan and Ladysmith chambers of commerce were on hand to engage the BC Ferries board and CEO at our request.

Route 6 provides all the dangerous goods to the island as well as a vital link for goods and services. It was a great evening to discuss the issues in a casual environment. The interim chair, a Gulf Islands resident, and other members were curious and genuinely concerned. Most had taken an excursion on the MV Quinsam earlier that afternoon on Route 6 to Crofton and return.

Commitments to date

BC Ferries is having issues ramping up from the global pandemic and is not alone in that plight in the transportation sector. The next four-year budget runs from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2027. There has been a commitment to construct the new ferry terminals at Crofton and Vesuvius Bay. These are expensive projects and take time to build.

We continue to campaign for the little things that make a difference. Most recently a joint venture with the Exchange in having a camera mounted at the Crofton toll booth pointing up Chaplin Street to the turn onto Crofton Road, and no parking lines at the entrance to residential driveways on Chaplin Street. We now have a new porta potty next to the toll booth for use after 6 p.m.

One request is a similar facility for the foot passenger waiting area on the wharf, similar to what we have at Vesuvius Bay. Moving the 7:55 p.m. sailing up to 7:20 p.m. at Crofton would be appreciated greatly by all heading home after a long day.

The issue of moving the dangerous goods times on Monday and Thursday to the evening hours during the long days of summer doesn’t appear to be an issue for our dangerous goods providers. However, the issue has been discussed by BCF and FAC for a very long time with no resolve.

Route 4 – Fulford Harbour to Swartz Bay

The current parking lot was created on landfill decades ago. Is it reasoned to think that if you can’t acquire property in the vicinity of the terminal that fill is the only option? Landfill adjacent to current parking lot to create a 140 to 160-vehicle containment area in order to take vehicles off the roadway and restore the Fulford village is a very viable option and, yes, expensive. During an election year this would be a great time to discuss the issue with our candidates, in time for BC Ferries’ upcoming four-year budget.

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