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BC Ferries decides it won’t be moving Crofton terminal

Municipality and community members had indicated preference for re-locating terminal
BC Ferries has decided it won’t be moving the Crofton ferry terminal, and will instead focus on upgrading the berth at its current location. (Black Press Media file photo)

Crofton’s ferry terminal won’t be moving, BC Ferries has decided.

In a capital planning update on March 22, the ferry corporation stated that the Crofton terminal project, as well as the Vesuvius terminal on Salt Spring Island, “will focus on the berth replacements in their original location to ensure the continued reliability of our infrastructure and to prepare the terminals for the introduction of two new Island class vessels in 2027.”

In 2019, the terminal development planning process involved consultation on two concepts for the Crofton terminal, one with the berth at its current location, and one with the berth just north of the boat ramp.

The Municipality of North Cowichan and the general public both indicated at the time a strong preference for moving the terminal, which would have removed ferry traffic from Chaplin Street and created more public space on the waterfront.

BC Ferries’ update last month noted that the corporation has to make “some tough decisions” to work within its budget and prioritize maintenance and reliability of infrastructure, and vessel and berth replacement.

“As a result, we have had to defer or adjust the scope of some of our previously planned projects to work within available funds,” the update added.

North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas spoke with BC Ferries CEO Nicolas Jimenez on Tuesday, April 2, and heard more about the ferry corporation’s escalating capital costs. Douglas said he conveyed to Jimenez that berth replacement in the current location is not Crofton’s preference.

“Ideally we would have liked to see BC Ferries move ahead with the concept that we’d supported in 2019-20, and our community was behind…” Douglas said. “That work certainly created some expectations in our community, and to see it not move ahead as we’d hoped is definitely disappointing.”

He said it’s also his understanding that BC Ferries is not moving ahead with upland improvements in Crofton in the short term, though improvements could still be in the works. The mayor has received a commitment that BC Ferries will follow up with more clarity on what Crofton can expect as far as both berth replacement and upland improvements.

BC Ferries’ statement suggested that the increase in capacity and frequency of the two Island class vessels will keep ferry traffic moving through the Crofton and Vesuvius terminals more efficiently.

“Understanding the effects of peak season traffic on our neighbours, we will continue to utilize all traffic control measures to minimize impacts,” the corporation noted.

David Courtney, who has been petitioning for terminal improvements on the route for the past several years, said it’s disappointing that BC Ferries “couldn’t come up with the change” to proceed with moving the terminal, which he said would give Crofton back to the people of Crofton.

“On a Friday afternoon when people are coming home from work and they can’t get in their driveway and they’re leaving for the weekend, I’ve seen fistfights break out,” he said.

He’ll continue to advocate as though BC Ferries’ decision isn’t final, he said. He hopes the subject will come up during the provincial election campaign this fall, and hopes local governments will continue to advocate for what he and others feel is the right place for a Crofton ferry terminal.

“If they build the berth where it is now, it doesn’t make any sense because everybody wants it on the other side of the boat launch…” Courtney said. “Let’s face it, [BC Ferries is] cash-strapped like everybody and they’re just trying to come up with some solutions here.”

READ ALSO: Lack of progress on Crofton ferry terminal frustrates North Cowichan mayor

About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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