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

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

Just Posted

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

Most Read