West Shore commuter ferry more realistic after sale of Royal Bay lands: chamber

West Shore chamber announced study by Black Ball Ferry Line and Royal Roads University into the feasibility of a commuter ferry to downtown

It’s still just an idea but now it’s one with the building blocks in place to actually make it happen.

The concept of a ferry linking the West Shore to downtown Victoria has been bandied about before but now that prime real estate at Royal Bay has been sold to developers, the proposal can be taken a little more seriously.

“The trigger, really, for us is the sale of Royal Bay, “ said Westshore Chamber of Commerce CEO Dan Spinner, referring to the sale of 419 acres of long empty waterfront property in Colwood.

In May, B.C. Investment Management Corp. purchased the land from Lehigh Hanson. The long-range plan calls for a village centre and 2,800 single family homes. The area will also be home to a new high school recently announced by the Sooke School District.

The chamber announced June 7 it will facilitate a study by Black Ball Ferry Line and Royal Roads University into the feasibility of a commuter ferry connecting the Inner Harbour and the West Shore.

Though Black Ball is a U.S. company, its president, Ryan Burles, lives in Metchosin. Black Ball has a number of staffers who have direct experience with smaller ferries serving the islands of Puget Sound.

A ferry service to the Inner Harbour would help protect “quality of life” for commuters living on the burgeoning West Shore, Burle said.

“It is kind of a puzzle,” he said, noting the most critical piece will be ensuring a ferry fits seamlessly into other transit services. That means it needs to be accessible by bus or light rail and the cost for riding the ferry can’t be prohibitive.

One model that works is the Sea Bus in Vancouver, which requires a ticket that allows riders to use the Sky Train and the bus system. However, the big difference is that the Sea Bus operates over a relatively calm surface while Royal Bay to the Inner Harbour can be rough waters.

“No matter what, every route is different,” Burle said. “It’s not like an airport.”

Exactly what the sea state allows is one of the biggest questions needing to be addressed by the ferry study. Another is whether the developers planning the Royal Bay community will commit to a terminal on the land, said Burle, noting that his company can help by offering expertise on the subject from the ground floor.

RRU student Jonathon Calderwood has been tasked with the study. It will focus on whether a passenger ferry would ease the Colwood Crawl, the notorious rush-hour traffic snarl that slows commuters who live on the West Shore but work in the metropolitan core.

Chamber public relations co-ordinator Lindsay Vogan said Calderwood should have his report finished by the end of this year. “He’ll be doing a lot of interviews,” she said. “With the amount of people moving to the West Shore and how fast it’s growing it just makes sense to give people a different way of getting to and from work.”

The study will examine best practices of other commuter boat services around the continent as well as delve into ferry failures. Groups with a stake in such a commuter service on the West Shore will also be interviewed.

editor@goldstreamnews.com

Just Posted

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

Suspect found with tools, copper piping in Oak Bay commercial block

Police briefs include missing dinghy, speed stop turned impaired, wallet swiped from unlocked car

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

The District of Saanich has pinpointed funding requests to Oak Bay and Victoria to help offset the purchase price of the Kings Park greenspace and keep the property intact. (Courtesy District of Saanich)
Saanich requests funding help from neighbours to preserve Kings Road green space

District hopes Victoria and Oak Bay will join them in protecting urban green space

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbourhood on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read