B.C. Ferries MV Klitsa slides out of Brentwood Bay with a full load of passengers enroute to Mill Bay. (File)

B.C. Ferries MV Klitsa slides out of Brentwood Bay with a full load of passengers enroute to Mill Bay. (File)

Editorial: Time has come for Malahat alternatives to be taken seriously

There have also been proposals to beef up the existing Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay ferry route

After a couple of lengthy Malahat highway closures over the past few weeks the spotlight is once again on the problematic stretch of blacktop connecting Victoria to the rest of Vancouver Island.

Millions have been spent over the last 10 years and more to widen the road, install centre barriers and the like, but the fundamental problems with the road remain: it is the only way to get from south to north or north to south in any kind of timely fashion. And with the number of commuters who use the route daily, added to the tourists and others, that is not a satisfactory status quo.

After a recent crash and fuel spill that left the highway closed to the evening commute, we wrote an editorial about how this demonstrates the need to get the E&N rail corridor back up and running.

We still fully support the E&N rejuvenation efforts, but there have been a number of other proposals as well which deserve consideration.

In our Wednesday edition we ran a story about a fledgling ferry corporation that is seriously looking into starting a new ferry run between Cowichan Bay and Pat Bay. This could be an excellent idea if it comes to fruition. We especially like the corporation’s goal of eventually offering mainly walk-on service, with links to public transportation at either end.

There have also been proposals to beef up the existing Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay ferry route with either a second boat added for additional crossings, or a new, bigger ferry dedicated to the line that would be able to carry more vehicles and passengers and travel at a faster pace. This is also an idea worthy of serious consideration.

Then there’s the idea of a bridge connecting Cowichan and Saanich.

No one of these ideas is likely to be the entirety of the solution. But it’s past time to start serious consideration of bringing several of them into being.