BC Ferries will not provide traffic control for lineup

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, August 14 2018

BC Ferries has not yet committed to having anyone contracted to run traffic control on the ferry lineup on Gabriola Island.

Darin Guenette, Manager of Public Affairs for BC Ferries, said that “to this point, we have not made any decision to try and hire outside flaggers for Taylor Bay Road, no.

“I do know that our executive and senior operations teams are well aware of the issues and community concerns, but employment of flaggers is very costly, and it’s difficult to strategically find the times/days that would provide the most benefit for any money spent.”

Staff from the Transportation Ministry said this past week that traffic control would fall within the responsibility of BC Ferries, stating in a release that “the ministry is working with BC Ferries to work towards a resolution to traffic congestion. 

“As this is a capacity issue at the Gabriola Ferry Terminal, any questions about traffic controllers would be best directed towards BC Ferries.”

Ministry staff added that “staff are well aware of the congestion issues from the ferry lineup along Taylor Bay Road, especially during the peak summer travel season. Staff have installed multiple “no U-turns” signs along the road to improve safety and operations near the ferry terminal.”

Cpl. Nathan Dame, Gabriola RCMP Detachment Commander, directing ferry traffic at the Ivory Way turnaround on a busy Thursday morning. Derek Kilbourn photo


Cpl. Nathan Dame, detachment commander for the Gabriola RCMP, has said having someone (BC Ferries or Ministry or private company) contracted to do traffic control would be a good stop-gap until a new terminal is built on Gabriola.

That new terminal is still in the works, according to Guenette, but won’t likely be ready for three years.

“Gabriola is first off the docket for a new terminal...to have shovels in the ground.

“I know it’s just over three years away to completion. In our world of design and construction, that’s relatively quick.”

When complete, the new terminal will see multiple lineup lanes right in front of the Skol Pub, with the only lineup going up the hill to be an overflow line. 

By the time the new terminal is built, BC Ferries is projecting it should have two new 47-vehicle ferries operating on the Gabriola route, transporting 100 vehicles an hour rather than the 70 vehicles an hour carried by the Quinsam.

In the meantime, Gabriola RCMP have taken to providing traffic control for sailings they know are overloaded, and where people have been seen to be aggressive - such as the 8:50 a.m. and 10:05 a.m. sailings on Thursdays, aptly renamed by Thunderdome Thursday by locals.

Dame reminded ferry riders that they are required to park at least six metres back of the stop sign at the junction of Taylor Bay Road with ferry hill; and if the lineup stretches as far as Ivory Way, to please continue the lineup down Ivory Way and not across the campground entrance.