Colwood mayor unhappy after passenger ferry not considered high priority by province

WatchThe Colwood Crawl is one of the most notorious commutes on Vancouver Island, and yesterday we got word of the province's latest transportation plan. While the plan includes strategies to reduce our carbon footprint and get more cars off the road, there was one omission that has left some shaking their heads. Ben Nesbit explains.

The City of Colwood’s mayor is disappointed after it appears the push for a passenger ferry from Colwood to Victoria will remain on the back burner.

On Friday, the B.C. government released its long-awaited South Island Transportation Strategy, which identifies future transportation improvements on southern Vancouver Island.

The province identified a number of short-term strategies including adding bus lanes on the Old Island Highway, prioritizing transit stop improvements servicing Indigenous communities, installing electric vehicle charging stations at mobility hubs, and supporting BC Transit’s effort to electrify its fleet.

Listed under long-term strategies were exploring the potential for commuter rail on the
Island Rail Corridor between Westhills and Victoria and the viability of future marine transportation corridors.

Although the Victoria-Colwood ferry route was not specifically mentioned, it was shown on a map included in the plan.

Colwood Mayor Rob Martin, who has pushed for the ferry even before he was elected in 2018, said it wasn’t quite what he wanted to hear.

“I was actually a little disappointed that it wasn’t a higher priority for the province right now,” said Martin.

BC Ferries has also expressed their own interest in the service, and while still encouraged that the province is at least acknowledging the project, Martin said the clock is ticking.

“Royal Bay is building out now,” said Martin. “If we do not capture this land now, it becomes incredibly hard to do it in 10 to 15 years from now when the waterfront is already built out and we’ve built out a transportation structure that supports the ferry.”

Under the proposed Victoria-Colwood ferry route, a boat would carry up to 300 passengers from Royal Bay Beach Park to the Victoria Inner Harbour in less than 20 minutes.

It would help takes thousands of cars off the road and alleviate some of the traffic issues, such as the infamous Colwood Crawl along the Trans-Canada Highway.

Colin Plant, board chair of the Capital Regional District, said having other transit options would be beneficial to everyone in the region.

“It is the entire region that would benefit from a multimodal transportation system because the more different ways people have to move through the region, it will ease congestion,” said Plant.

Although the transport plan did include rapid transit strategies to western communities like Colwood, View Royal and Langford along highway one and the old Island Highway.

However, it appears the quest to move traffic from land to water, will have to wait.

The full transportation plan can be viewed here.

Ben NesbitBen Nesbit

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