Significant changes are coming to the major BC Ferries terminal at Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver in an effort to improve the facility’s capacity and efficiency.
The ferry corporation says it is working towards a retrofit and expansion plan that could cost up to $250 million.
There are no concrete plans for the project at this early stage. BC Ferries is set to commence a public consultation phase early in 2018 to receive input on the future vision of the terminal and the services it provides and supports.
“The objective of the engagement is to integrate public and stakeholder input with technical planning into a Terminal Development Plan,” BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall told Daily Hive.
“The plan will assume a long-term view that envisions desired service, vessel changes, and terminal function, while considering constraints and flexibility for future changes.”
She says the Horseshoe Bay terminal’s three berths provide more sailings per day than the Tsawwassen terminal with its five berths. And with such heavy usage, as well as growing demand, it is operating at overcapacity and there is an urgency to make the terminal’s footprint more efficient.
“The challenges we face at Horseshoe Bay include aged infrastructure and traffic congestion, both in the terminal and with the three berths,” Marshall continued.
She adds that no decisions have been made, and the ferry corporation’s planners will require board and provincial regulatory approvals before any plans can be built.
In last year’s annual report, BC Ferries stated Horseshoe Bay was experiencing on-time challenges, and interim measures were implemented to help address the issues.
“The configuration of the terminal limits our operational flexibility particularly during periods of high traffic,” reads the report. “Our initiatives to continue to improve on-time performance have included adjusting and/or expanding sailing schedules, adjusting crewing schedules and refining vehicle loading processes during peak periods.”
There have been some relatively minor improvements to the ferry terminal facilities over the years. As well, road access to the entrance of the terminal area was improved about a decade ago as part of the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrade project.
Horseshoe Bay terminal is served by ferry routes to Nanaimo, the Sunshine Coast, and Bowen Island. It is the ferry corporation’s third largest ferry terminal, behind Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay.
Over the coming decade, BC Ferries estimates it will need to spend a total of $500 million on retrofits of terminals that serve major routes, especially Horseshoe Bay, Swartz Bay, and Tsawwassen.
There has been a surge in ridership on the ferry network over the past few years. In the last fiscal year, BC Ferries recorded 8.3 million vehicles and 21 million passengers – levels that have not been seen in about a decade. These figures are also 6.6% and 9.2% higher than the slump in 2014.
The previous provincial government led by the BC Liberals commenced a study on a fixed road or bridge link to the Sunshine Coast from the Sea-to-Sky Highway as a way to provide the Horseshoe Bay terminal with some relief and encourage economic growth.