Royal Bay residents are lamenting the provincial government’s long-term priority designation for marine transportation corridors, which include a Colwood-Victoria ferry service.
The province’s South Island Transportation Strategy, assigned long-term priority to future marine transportation routes, as opposed to short-term and medium-term assignment for other projects, such as electric vehicle charging stations and the Rapid Transit Corridor along Highway 1.
“It appears that the provincial government is taking the support of people living in the CRD [Capital Regional District] region for granted and are placing a higher priority on focusing their time and attention elsewhere in the province,” the Royal Bay Homeowners Association wrote in a news release.
The group has long supported the vision of a passenger ferry service from one shoreline to the other, and compares the concept to the geographic relationship from Sydney, Australia to nearby Manly.
“The beneficial impacts on the economies and the quality of life in both communities are substantial,” the association wrote. “Ignoring an opportunity for the City of Colwood, the City of Victoria and the entire CRD region to take a great leap forward both economically and in quality of life, does not show much interest or concern for the future of South Island communities by the provincial government.”
In November 2018 Colwood Mayor Rob Martin pitched the idea of the ferry, saying rapid growth of West Shore communities calls for new ways to get to and from downtown.
A pre-feasibility study highlighted the project as a solution to traffic congestion between downtown Victoria and Colwood – commonly known as the Colwood crawl. But Martin says the ferry isn’t just about Colwood commuters, it would stop in Esquimalt too, creating a traffic-easing transportation option for people across the region, and encouraging walking and biking on both ends.
“All 13 mayors have written letters of support, as well as the CRD,” he said. “Because we live on an island, there’s a finite amount of land. I really believe that this is the best option.”
Martin was disappointed that marine transportation was deemed a long-term priority, not just because he’s been championing the project for a number of years, but because impending development around Royal Bay has created a new level of urgency.
He feels a full feasibility study is needed, and once the project is green lit it will still take another three or so years to build.
“We’re building out our infrastructure now for Royal Bay and Royal Beach,” he said. “And that infrastructure is different with a static waterfront versus a dynamic waterfront.”
Martin hopes to see the ferry corridor become a topic for local candidates in the provincial election.
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