Moving the Crofton ferry terminal about 150 yards to the north of its current location would be the best-case scenario for North Cowichan, according to Al Siebring.
Siebring, the new mayor of the municipality, said building a new terminal at this location would help ease traffic flows in the Crofton village area that are currently being impacted by the congestion of cars waiting to cross over to Saltspring Island on the ferry.
But he acknowledged that moving the terminal and creating a new and separate access to the ferry would require negotiations between Paper Excellence Canada, the new owners of the Crofton pulp and paper mill which owns land that the access route would likely have to be built through, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and BC Ferries.
“We’ll have to wait and see just what happens with the Crofton ferry terminal, but I talked to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevana at the last Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting and she said the ministry is open to that idea,” Siebring said.
“But there are a number of different players at the table on this issue so the ministry won’t be making any unilateral decisions.”
BC Ferries has announced it will begin consultations, including with the public, on a terminal development plan in 2019 for the Crofton ferry terminal, with upgrades planned for 2022 based on the input that is received.
BC Ferries’ capital budget is $3.9 billion and some of that money, although exactly how much is not known at this time, has been earmarked for the Crofton ferry terminal.
Siebring said he doesn’t know at this stage if North Cowichan will be asked to contribute to the costs of whatever is eventually planned for the ferry terminal.
“I’m hoping the province can be convinced to take on much of the costs because North Cowichan doesn’t have a lot of money for the project right now, but that would ultimately be up to council,” he said.
As for what other changes and upgrades the municipality would like to see on the Crofton-Saltspring Island ferry run, including service levels, Siebring said the vast majority of users of the ferry are from Saltspring Island, so their input would be far more useful to deciding changes than those who live in Crofton and North Cowichan.