Foot passenger ferry between Nanaimo and Vancouver could begin in July


The future of BC Ferries was on everyone’s mind in Nanaimo Wednesday when CEO Mark Collins spoke to the business community about emerging trends and the course going forward. The future includes the potential of a competing foot ferry being set up as soon as this summer. That ferry is becoming an increasing possibility in Nanaimo. Skye Ryan reports.

Love was in the air as Brandon Fenton and Marissa Murray set out on BC Ferries from Nanaimo Wednesday for their first Canucks game in Vancouver together.

“I’m so excited,” said Marissa Murray.

However, the cost of getting to Vancouver on BC Ferries is something Fenton says he could do without.

“I think definitely the prices are a little too high,” said Fenton. “Especially considering it’s one of the only ways off the Island other than the planes,” he said.

On Wednesday in Nanaimo, the CEO of BC Ferries got a chance to hear what’s on the minds of people on the mid-Island as a guest of the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. Mark Collins also shared his insights of what travel aboard BC Ferries looks like going forward and he says self-driving cars and an increase in foot passengers is something they’re now preparing for.

“We could see passengers taking a ride-hailing autonomous vehicle to the ferry, travelling to the ferry and then getting off as a foot passenger on the other side,” said Collins.

“Why bring your car when you can have a private car at each end of the travel? So we could see a trend to many more people on board and much fewer vehicles.”

The future could also soon lead to competition for the business of all those BC Ferries foot passengers. Island Ferry Services is set to finish its five-year-long effort to set up a downtown-Nanaimo-to-downtown-Vancouver ferry service for foot passengers.

Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce President Kim Smythe says that ferry looking more like a reality by the day.

“The operators have cited July as their start time. They say they’ll have one vessel in the water in July and another vessel in the water in September,” said Smythe.

“I’m very confident that’s going to happen. “It seems like everything is pointing in the right direction now.”

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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