FAC demanding BC Ferries hire flaggers for Taylor Bay lineup

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, May 29 2019

The Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) is demanding that BC Ferries hire traffic flaggers for the ferry lineup on Taylor Bay Road.

Steve Earle, FAC Chair, said, “This is a very serious safety issue in this community. There are dangerous manoeuvers happening there. I see people breaking the law. It’s not changing.” 

He acknowledged that twice before, the FAC has requested that BC Ferries look into hiring flaggers.

“You’ve said no. Twice. Fair enough.”

While BC Ferries does hire flaggers for lineups at other minor route terminals, that is done to prevent the lineup from blocking driveways.

Earle said, “We tend to think the safety of people on Taylor Bay Road is more important than driveways.

“You had also said it would cost something like a million dollars a year, so we went and got numbers from a flagging company.”

The FAC looked at the cost of having two flaggers hired to work four hours a day, four days of the week, for four months a year.

In a quote obtained by the FAC, the cost would be $32,000.

Earle said, “That’s not going to break the bank.”

The role envisioned by the FAC is not for flaggers to police the lineup, but to provide information and to be an eye, so that drivers know they are being watched.

“To reduce the number of illegal turnarounds.”

As the lineup gets to places like Mallet Creek and Ivory Way, flaggers would also be able to help drivers find safer places to park while in the line.

Heather O’Sullivan, FAC member, said, “We’d like to point out the community recognizes there’s a real disconnect when we hear we can’t have flaggers - now we’re seeing and hearing about flaggers on the [Nanaimo side]. 

“That might be related to buses on that side, but we’re seeing people monitoring the lineup.”

John MacDonald, BCF Terminal Manager, said the City of Nanaimo is paying for those flaggers as part of their transit project on Front Street.

O’Sullivan said “this issue has been going on for so long. 

“We’ve had accidents, we’ve had road rage, the U-turning is not going to stop...unless we have someone visible.

“We’re not expecting policing - I spoke to the flagging company, they are comfortable doing this, having someone there.”

Earle added that even if the two ships to replace the Quinsam will be in service in late 2021/early 2022, that means at least three more summers before there is any potential improvement on how traffic is handled on the Gabriola route.

Another three more summers “is a long time, we’re going to see something happen.”

Dave Hendry, BCF Director of Strategic Planning and Community Engagement, asked that Earle provide the quote and other information to BC Ferries.

“Obviously the months [this is needed] are straightforward - but the days and specific hours need to be worked out.”

O’Sullivan said, clearly, that with the ship replacement and the terminal upgrades, there would be “a sunset on this, we are asking for something for a limited time...the last time you’d need flaggers would be summer of 2021.”