BUSINESS BEAT: Ferry service expands without going public

Service likely to expand further as Seaspan ramps up operations in Esquimalt

Passengers head down the gangway to board the Grey Selkie

Passengers head down the gangway to board the Grey Selkie

All it takes for Barry Hobbis to realize the value in his company’s Baseline commuter ferry service is to drive back to town from Colwood during morning rush hour.

Hobbis, founder and vice-president of operations for the West Bay Marina-based Victoria Harbour Ferry Inc., has occasion to check on things at Baseline’s West Shore dock at D jetty on Department of National Defence land.

“It’s been bumper-to-bumper just trying to get back to my office downtown,” he says. “It still amazes me that that kind of traffic exists. And it continues to get worse.”

Baseline was introduced in May as a private venture, when CFB Esquimalt cancelled its Blue Boat shuttle for naval and Dockyard personnel who live on the West Shore. The company recently expanded its service to include Victoria Shipyards workers, instituting runs leaving Colwood at 5:40 and 5:50 a.m. to accommodate the early shifts.

Baseline’s daily passenger load has grown to more than 500, without being open to the general public. Currently, all passengers must have DND security clearance.

“Studies have shown that 48 per cent of (base and shipyards workers) live on the West Shore,” Hobbis says.

Of the company’s three 40-passenger boats, two operate continually and the third is used when the demand calls for it. That has been more often lately, as the popularity of the service grows. With Seaspan due to ramp up its operations soon at the Esquimalt Graving Dock, more capacity will be needed, Hobbis says.

“We have to be very aware of capacity,” he says.

“The last thing we want to do is leave people standing on the dock.”

The company has been actively looking for a larger boat for the past six months, in places as far flung as Texas and Greece. “They’re everywhere,” Hobbis says.

While the Colwood Crawl – a more appropriate name today might be the West Shore Wait – continues to fuel calls for light rail and other forms of rapid transit, the success of the water commuter service makes more and more sense, he adds.

“In terms of future transportation modes, I think we’ll recognize even more so that water is the way to travel when you live on an Island,” Hobbis says.

Victoria Harbour Ferry is also among the groups looking into possible commuter service from the Royal Bay development in Colwood to downtown Victoria.

Hobbis says cities such as New York, Boston and Seattle are recognizing that using the water to create “connecting points” for commuters can work well to reduce congestion on the roads.

Island auto veterans make inroads in Victoria

After finalizing the purchase of long-time Victoria dealer Ensign Chrysler in the summer, the Harris family has made its presence known more visibly on its lot at the corner of Cook and Yates streets with new window signage.

Harris Auto Group, known more for its up-Island dealerships across many name plates, and locally, for its cellular phone business, purchased its first Chrysler Dodge Jeep operation in July. The dealership is run by general manager Dave Meyerink. Find them online at chryslerdodgejeepramvictoriadealer.ca.

Seniors care firm ramps up care for December

As a way of giving back to the community, Janie Apostolakos and her staff at Luxcare Lifestyle are this month volunteering one hour per senior – to a total of 50 hours – to assist with Christmas shopping, decorating, writing Christmas cards, gift wrapping, cooking, party planning or simple companionship. Call 250-590-1689 if you or someone you love could use a little Christmas help. Names are being taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

Visit Luxcare at luxcarelifestyle.com.

Names in the business news around Greater Victoria

After 16 years with Frontrunners Footwear, Mark Nelson has parted company with the locally owned specialty running store to operate and run Race Day Timing Services and RaceOnline Registrations. He sold his shares in Frontrunners Westshore to business partner Nick Walker, and bought Walker out of his position in the other two companies … Local public relations firm Trapeze Communications has added staff to meet growing demand. New permanent staff include senior art director Laura Prpich, account planner Marc Coderre and production artist/graphic designer Jennie Dixon.

Send your business news to editor@vicnews.com.

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

Just Posted

December and January, so far, have seen their share of rain. (Black Press Media file photo)
December and January tip the scales to wet in Greater Victoria

Winter is on the way, says Environment and Climate Change Canada

Rendering offers an overhead view of proposed tiny home community using repurposed shipping containers in the Caledonia/Vancouver street parking lot next to Royal Athletic Park. Council voted to allow Aryze Developments apply for a temporary use permit as part of the project. (Courtesy Aryze Developments)
Anonymous donor boosts shipping container housing project in Victoria

Donor promises to match further donations until $500,000 goal is met

Stair care in Colwood
Colwood Coun. Michael Baxter says Latoria Creek Park is now more enjoyable and safe to take a stroll through due to the latest upgrades completed on the staircase. Four long sets of nature stairs now include slip-proof metal steps. The elevated staircase also allows for better air flow to slow the rotting process, and metal handrails to prevent splinters. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Colwood unveils massive upgrade to popular park staircase

Upgrades include slip-proof metal steps, metal handrails and raised design

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Staff and volunteers at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea were disappointed by the theft of an educational porpoise skull likely taken on Jan. 8. (Courtesy of Tina Kelly)
Well-loved porpoise skull stolen from Sidney aquarium

Skull had been used for youth and visitor education and outreach for years

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Christmas may be over, but many B.C. neighbourhoods are still shining bright with the glimmer of holiday decorations and lights into 2021. (Black Press Media files)
British Columbians keep Christmas lights on past holidays to combat ‘COVID-19 blues’

One-third of households have kept their holiday decorations on display in 2021: B.C. Hydro survey

Most Read