Premier Horgan proposes changes to Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay ferry, including different routes

Premier Horgan proposes changes to Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay ferry, including different routes

WATCH: The ferry running between Mill Bay and Brentwood Bay is getting busier and busier. Much of that traffic is due to congestion on the Malahat. Now Premier Horgan is suggesting changes to increase capacity. Mary Griffin explains.

The Brentwood Bay-Mill Bay ferry is the province’s oldest, continuously operating ferry in the province. And it continues to get busier.

Second only in traffic to the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen run, traffic was up eight per cent in March compared to last year.

“The Brentwood Bay-Mill Bay ferry is quite busy for the level of service. It’s our second most utilized,” said Darin Guenette, manager of public affairs with BC Ferries.

Must of the traffic is due to the Malahat, according to people waiting to board the ferry.

“I’m going to visit my daughter in Port Alberni. She said it’ll probably save me an hour-and-a-half and a lot of worry not to have to drive on the Malahat,” Margie Lougheed, who is from Ontario, said.

Brentwood Bay resident Darlene Smith wants to avoid any problems.

“I wanted to avoid the Malahat this morning. This afternoon, so I decided to take the ferry over,” Smith said.

Last month on May 24, there was traffic chaos after a fuel tanker truck collided with a van near the entrance to Goldstream Park. The crash closed the Malahat for 14 hours, renewing calls for alternatives.

Premier John Horgan is now taking a look at changes to the current Brentwood Bay-Mill Bay ferry run.

That includes moving the Brentwood Bay terminal to Patricia Bay west of the Victoria airport.

Another option is to move the terminal and operate the run from Pat Bay directly across to Mill Bay.

“This is some pretty strong vision we see demonstrated by the premier, and we’re happy to see that. We’ve got some solid options for some clean, sound technology that we’d like to bring to the table. So, it’s encouraging,” Guenette said.

Even locals understand the need to move the ferry out of Brentwood Bay.

Ian Cameron is the chair of the Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay Ferry Advisory Committee.

“It’s quite common that you want to drive anywhere in Victoria, and drive up the highway to Duncan, it might take you two hours. It might take you more. If the ferry does not have a lineup, you could get there in 45, 50 minutes,” Ian Cameron, chairman of the Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay Ferry Advisory Committee, said.

But the mayor of Central Saanich, Ryan Windsor, won’t let the current ferry go without a fight.

“I understand that there are challenges with the amount of volume that this route could take. But I would look at alternatives to moving it away from here, for sure,” Windsor said.

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