BC Ferries has announced plans for public consultation this spring on plans to upgrade the Swartz Bay terminal in North Saanich. (Steven Heywood/News Staff)

Swartz Bay ferry terminal plans start with the public

BC Ferries announces spring-summer engagement process

BC Ferries will be asking its customers and Saanich Peninsula communities, for input into the future of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal.

On May 1, BC Ferries announced a spring-summer public engagement process that will reach passengers, drivers, nearby residents and other stakeholders. They are asking what they want to see in long-term planning for the Swartz Bay terminal, says Deborah Marhsall, Executive Director of Public Affairs for BC Ferries.

BC Ferries has similar plans for their terminals at Horseshoe Bay and Gabriola Island.

The terminal, Marshall explained, has been seeing increased growth in foot passengers and vehicles in recent years. In April 2017 to to February 2018, vehicle traffic at Swartz Bay jumped 3.91 per cent. Passengers were also up 4.54 per cent.

“This traffic increase has been consistent … and the Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay run is the busiest in the fleet,” Marshall said.

She added traffic and parking remain some of the biggest issues raised by customers at Swartz Bay.

Since their last master plan in 2004 — shortly after BC Ferries became an independent, regulated company — Marshall said they’ve made some improvements and changes at the Swartz Bay terminal. Those include changes to traffic flows, ticket booths and the pick up and drop off area. Marshall said this engagement process is being done to contribute to BC Ferries’ new long-term vision for the terminal. She added there are no specific plans for people to see at this stage, and they will be asking only for ideas.

“We want to hear what our customers, nearby neighbours, and communities have to say about the future of the Swartz Bay terminal,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice-President Strategy and Community Engagement, in a media release. “More than seven million passengers travel through the Swartz Bay terminal each year. The goal of creating this long-term plan will be to enhance the travel experience for our customers and help support growth in the region.”

Starting this month are a series of pop-up events— May 24, 25 and June 2 — as well as an online survey that goes live on the BC Ferries website May 24. Marshall said the events will have staff at the terminal, engaging with customers. At the same time, she said BC Ferries will begin holding workshops with stakeholders like the Swartz Bay Terminal Liaison Committee.

By June and July, BC Ferries plans on more workshops, a public open house, in addition to more pop-up events and the online survey.

A preferred concept plan is expected by August or September this year, based on the work done to that point, as well as follow up workshops and reports. That plan will include improvement options, cost estimates and further timelines.

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