FAC asking BC Ferries to enforce 24-hour rule in Gabriola parking lot

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 2 2017

The Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee is working with BC Ferries to find a solution to vehicles left beyond a 24-hour period in the Descanso Bay parking lot.

This past month, the FAC conducted a survey of islanders asking if there should be a time limit on how long vehicles can be parked in the “free” lot and, if so, how long that limit should be.

Ninety-one per cent of 217 respondents, according to FAC co-chair Steve Earle, said yes, there should be a time limit.

Twenty-four hours was the most popular time amongst respondents.

“That’s a pretty clear indication we think, and the FAC is recommending that if a time limit is put on the lot it be 24 hours.”

BC Ferries staff said enforcement would be the problem.

There were problems in the past, to the point that at the urging of the then-FAC members, BC Ferries stopped enforcing any kind of time limit in the lot.

BCF staff said there is also a problem in that requesting a vehicle be towed can take longer than what is ideal.

John MacDonald, BCF Regional Manager, Terminal Operations, said, “A couple years ago we towed a car that had been parked there for two to three weeks. 

“It was not viewed as the right thing to do from the community - we got a lot of negative feedback.”

He and other BCF staff said they wanted to be clear that the FAC was asking the company to do this.

Island Trustee Heather O’Sullivan, FAC member, said simply by stating there is a time limit, that will clear up 98 per cent of the issue. 

“People are not into breaking the rules, they just don’t have a rule right now.”

“It could probably be managed very low tech, chalk vehicles. If you can see someone’s been there two nights or a week or whatever - okay, not only are there restrictions, but they are enforced.”

FAC members brought up the number of spots reserved for crew, asking if there was any way to open some of those up for even part of the day to the public.

BCF said the spots were reserved as per the collective agreement with staff, with spots being reserved for each crew member on each shift that day.