Island-hopping will soon become that much easier this September with the arrival of a water taxi pilot project.
Operated by Gulf Islands Water Taxi, AquaLink will connect five Southern Gulf Islands – from Salt Spring to Galiano to Mayne to Pender to Saturna and back again – every Saturday and Sunday in September. There will be one run – back and forth – in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening.
The project is funded by the Southern Gulf Islands Tourism Partnership and will use September to test the waters before committing to something more long term.
“Hopefully it will show there is enough demand for a more permanent service,” Chris Hall, operations director for AquaLink, told Black Press Media. A Pender Island resident himself, Hall said talk of connecting the islands has been many years in the making.
“It’s certainly something the locals want and are interested in,” he said. B.C. Ferries’ schedule and availability doesn’t always work for everyone, he added. They’re also hoping the connection increases tourism to the islands.
Tickets range in price depending on the distance travelled, with the most expensive option sitting at $21 for an adult. Bikes and dogs will be welcomed on board, but larger items like kayaks won’t be allowed.
If all goes well in September, Hall and the tourism partnership will be looking at securing more permanent funding for the project – user-pay alone won’t cover the costs – and could bring it back as soon as next spring. Long term, Hall said, they’re also looking at connecting the service to Sidney.
More information can be found at aqualink.ca.
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