BCF commits to looking at long-term solutions for ferry lineup issues

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, June 14 2016

BC Ferries is willing to take part in discussions involving the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) and representatives of Gabriola Island to look at further solutions to the lineup woes at the Gabriola ferry terminal.

This past Friday morning, the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) met with BC Ferries staff on a number of issues - one of which was the increasing concerns of the safety of the lineup.

FAC Chair John Hodgkins brought up issues with people still making illegal U-turns to get in line; as well as the length the lineup can reach (almost to Ivory Way) for some sailings.

The current lineup. The red line being where vehicles will get on the next sailing; the blue line is one sailing wait. Illustration by FAC Chair John Hodgkins; map courtesy Islands Trust

Mark Collins, BCF Vice-President of Strategic Planning and Community Engagement said Gabriola is not unique in feeling pressure with lineup safety, with many of the minor route terminals being planned in the 1950s and 60s.

Since then, he said, traffic has increased, is faster, and the islands have more people living on them.

Collins said, “the blunt message is we can’t do anything with highways. We don’t own them, we’re not even supposed to put paint on them. MOTI does not wish us to be engaging in unilateral road decisions.

“That said - these are joint issues and we do participate in joint issues.”

Hodgekins suggested those discussions should include talking about other locations for the lineup, such as up the ferry hill and into the village core (be that up south road or north road).

The proposed alternative lineup. The red line being where vehicles will get on the next sailing; the blue line is one sailing wait. Illustration by FAC Chair John Hodgkins; map courtesy Islands Trust

FAC member Heather O’Sullivan suggested caution, and to talk to landowners including the Agi Association, as moving the lineup to ferry hill could impact an already crowded Farmers’ Market area.

Collins said if the lineup were kept on Taylor Bay Road, other solutions like more signage, more paint, and physical barriers can make a difference at the minor route terminals.

“What’s complex is the government involvement - we can put engineering resources on it, but we can’t act on it alone.

“MOTI is used to us, they understand ferry issues, we are happy to add our voice to the discussions.”

Randy Young with the Gabriola Ratepayers was in the public audience, and said the Ratepayers will be hosting a meeting with MOTI representatives at 6pm at the Agi Hall on June 27. Young invited BCF to send staff to that meeting.

Collins said to get him the details and he would talk to terminal staff to have someone attend.

Randy - scheduled in the AGI Hall at 6pm on the 27th.

At a previous FAC meeting, BCF had committed to also working with MOTI to look at traffic patterns in and around the terminal area on Gabriola. With a change in local MOTI staff this past year, that had been put on the shelf.

FAC member Jim Ramsay said the new area manager was going to have more information available by the 27th to speak to the terminal traffic area study.