BC Ferries is preparing for big changes at its terminal in Campbell River.
And as traffic increases on the Campbell River-Quadra Island route, at least one daily customer wants the terminal overhaul to focus on the safety of walk-on passengers.
“The design of this whole complex was basically with priority for cars,” said Bill Burr after disembarking from the ferry in Campbell River.
Burr, who lives on a sailboat at Quathiaski Cove, travels daily on the 10-minute ferry to Campbell River, where he works out at a gym at Tyee Plaza and practices with a pipe band.
He said it’s risky for walk-on passengers to cross Hwy. 19A after getting off the ferry because the crosswalk is geared towards the flow of vehicle traffic.
“You take your life in your hands trying to cross there,” he said.
At the crosswalk nearest to the ferry’s berth, pedestrians vie for position with vehicles turning right onto the highway. Those motorists tend to ignore “yield to pedestrians” signs posted on the ferry’s exit lane, he said.
|A Quadra Island man says that motorists routinely ignore “yield to pedestrian” signs while disembarking from the ferry in Campbell River. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror|
Burr thinks vehicles getting off the ferry should wait at a red light, and that pedestrians should get a longer crossing time.
“The pedestrians don’t have enough time to even get across,” he said. “Most of them are in that intersection when the cars are trying to turn.”
Meanwhile, another pedestrian crosswalk – this one leading to the main terminal office from Tyee Plaza – remains locked on “don’t walk” while cars disembark.
Burr said it’s a problem especially for seniors, people with bicycles and other customers who need to use the staffed main building for their tickets, instead of an electronic kiosk in the building near the berth.
“When the ferry’s in and it’s unloading, the pedestrian light will not activate,” he said. “So many people run against the light because of that. I see it all the time.”
He raised those concerns at a public forum in Campbell River this month. It was part of public consultations by BC Ferries as the company prepares to overhaul the ferry terminal.
The changes were prompted by increased traffic on Campbell River-Quadra Island route, according to Mitchell Jacobson, assistant manager of terminal development.
Last year, the route saw 719 overloaded sailings – most of them during the summer – meaning that vehicles had to wait more than an hour to catch a ferry. Of those, 73 resulted in more than a one-sailing wait.
“We know there’s a demand for increased capacity,” said Jacobson. “There’s different ways to go about it. One is a larger vessel. An alternative is two smaller vessels but more frequent service.”
He said that two ferries is the company’s “preferred approach,” although that option still needs approval by the BC Ferries Commission.
But the ferry operator would need somewhere to dock a second vessel when it’s not in use. The MV Powell River Queen, which normally serves the route, parks in the Campbell River berth.
The question of where to dock the ferry may guide the design of a revamped terminal, said Jacobson.
Public consultations involved city officials and other government agencies, members of Wei Wai Kum First Nation and ferry terminal workers, said Brian Green, terminal development manager for BC Ferries.
The process also involved a ferry users group on Quadra Island, which also raised pedestrian safety issues, notably for children who get picked up and dropped off by school buses along Hwy. 19A, Green said.
Mayor Andy Adams said the city is aiming to calm traffic along that four-lane stretch of highway by reducing the number of lanes and adding medians.
He said the city is also working on making the downtown waterfront friendlier to pedestrians and cyclist by extending the Seawalk.
“Right now, you are right on the edge of the road, with minimal-width sidewalk,” he said. “Not a real pleasant waterfront experience.”
BC Ferries is still accepting ideas from the public about changes to the terminal until Nov. 2.
Members of the public can send their ideas by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by post to BC Ferries, Terminal Development, 500-1321 Blanshard Street, Victoria, BC, V8W 0B7.
The company plans to use that input to develop a set of options, which will then be presented to the public – likely next spring – for further feedback. The planning process should be complete by next summer, Jacobson said.