BC Ferries gives final approval of Gabriola terminal plan

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, April 10 2019

BC Ferries has released what it calls the final version of the Terminal Development Plan for the Gabriola Terminal.

This is so far only a design approval - further engineering studies and consultations will be required - as well as an application to the Islands Trust for a rezoning on the properties involved in the Gabriola terminal.

That puts construction well past the projected 2021 arrival of the two new 47-vehicle Island Class vessels which will replace the 70-vehicle Quinsam.

The entire TDP document is now available on the terminal development section of the BC Ferries web site.

According to BC Ferries, the TDP has been informed by community and BC Ferries staff feedback. 

Key issues associated with the current terminal, which influenced the design of the proposed terminal were: 

• Lack of a holding compound and vehicles queuing along the shoulder of North Road and Taylor Bay Road. Along Taylor Bay road vehicles make potentially unsafe u‑turns to join the back of the ferry lineup.

• Poor customer amenities including an outdated washroom and waiting room building, resulting in a lack of ‘sense of place’ and no community connection or ‘sense of arrival’ to the island.

• No formalized pick-up drop‑off areas resulting in a congested and haphazard area at and near the terminal during unloading and loading periods 

• Inadequate pedestrian and cyclists facilities for those customers arriving and departing the terminal

• No customer information on current service.

• Forecasted growth. The Gabriola route is projected to increase by an additional 4,548 annual passengers in the next 23 years. 2017 saw the last peak at 770,452 passengers, that is projected to increase to to 775,000 passengers in 2041.

A four-lane vehicle holding compound is proposed to be built, located downhill from where the current lineup begins. This area will hold 53 vehicles.

Additional lineup space then follows the current ferry line up to the Taylor Bay Road intersection, which BC Ferries says will hold an additional 61 vehicles.

When the two Island Class ferries are both operating, BC Ferries is projecting they will be able to transport 94 vehicles off Gabriola every hour - compared to the Quinsam which currently transports 70 vehicles every 75 to 80 minutes.

The terminal area itself will have 21 parking stalls; with an additional six dedicated motorcycle/scooter stalls. It will also incorporate specific (and separate) loading areas for the school bus and the GERTIE community bus, as well as designated drop-off and pickup lanes.

The new terminal is proposed to be built out over the foreshore with an outdoor seating area over the water. A green roof will stretch from where passengers load the ferry across the shoreline to the property line.

BC Ferries says there will be a list of amenities which will be added to the terminal to better serve passengers and the community including: 

• Covered bike parking with charging stations

• Device charging receptacles within the waiting area

• A variety of indoor and outdoor seating options

• A covered vendor space

• Real-time display of vessel status

• Barrier free washrooms that include change tables

• Fresh water bottle filing station

• Area for indoor and outdoor art display

• Community display board

There is a roundabout still on the design maps for the intersection of Taylor Bay Road on Ferry Hill, but the design team notes that the roundabout is optional is subject to MOTI decision.

The full plan can be downloaded and viewed from the BC Ferries sites. Click here.