And the survey says …. West Shore residents want a ferry to downtown Victoria.
More than 1,800 people took a survey on-line and in person and 96 per cent of the people who reported as a car and bus commuters said they were would take a ferry from Royal Bay in Colwood to downtown Victoria. Of the survey go-ers 486 responses came from West Shore residents who work in the downtown Victoria core.
“I was positively surprised with the results. We were expecting a positive result, but not as strong as it was,” said Dan Spinner, Westshore Chamber of Commerce CEO.
The chamber board formally received and reviewed the report at its June 26 meeting.
The next step in the process is to have a Sea State Study on the weather and the accessibility for ferries to travel across the harbour.
Spinner explained there may be weather conditions when the boats would be unable to sail, similar to incidents at the Tsawwassen terminal.
“But here would would have back up buses and you can’t do that in Tsawwassen,” said Spinner.
Spinner said the chamber would like to meet and discuss this with the Ministry of Transportation as well as the West Shore municipalities including Colwood.
The chamber may approach Colwood about providing some land for a parking lot where a shuttle would bring people to the ferry.
Looking into the future options of the project, Spinner said he’d like to talk to BC Transit and potentially work out a deal with them to have a ferry operate similar to the Seabus in Vancouver. Transit goers could use a BC transit pass or ticket to board the ferry.
“BC Transit would be a required partner to make this work,” said Jonathan Calderwood who conducted the survey and report.
Calderwood, Royal Roads University Master of Business Administration student, released his report June 14. The recommendations in the report are that of Calderwood and not of the chamber.
CFB Esquimalt offered a ferry service for its employees which was later offered by the Victoria Harbour Ferry Co, but both programs are not offered now.
“That program was for base employees only,” explained Calderwood adding if the service was open to the public it would have more ridership and generate more funds.
The report recommends using 350 passenger mono or catamaran hull vessels. The estimated capital cost for the project is $26 million dollars and would include building suitable facilities and purchasing vessels.
While public interest in a ferry project seems high, Spinner is quick to point out adding a ferry will not be the only way to solve the traffic congestion problems plaguing West Shore commuters.
“The E&N rail goes around Colwood,” said Spinner adding to the importance of the ferry option for Colwood residents.
A side from getting a commuting ferry Spinner would also like to see rail options opened up from the West Shore to Victoria.
Coming up with solutions for the commuting problems is important to Spinner who said the population on the West Shore will continue to grow and possibly double.