FAC meeting moves to Gabriola Commons

The FAC Spring meeting with BC Ferries takes place on Monday April 24, starting at 3pm, with a new venue – upstairs at Gabriola Commons, 675 North Road.

Members of the public are invited to attend this meeting, but are reminded that this is NOT an open house session. You will be welcome to speak on a particular topic, but please contact the Chair by email  at gabriola.fac@gmail.com ahead of the meeting. We will try and ensure that time is available for anyone who wishes to speak.

The agenda for Monday’s meeting can be downloaded here.

Ferry terminal parking Survey

The FAC would like to thank all who have responded to our online survey to determine public opinion on the need for time limits for parking at Gabriola’s ferry terminal.  The survey has now closed and results will be announced at the forthcoming FAC meeting on April 24.

Analysis of the responses has uncovered one respondent who made a supreme effort to distort the outcome of the survey – either intentionally or otherwise – by submitting no less than 450 identical responses from the same computer.  Needless to say, these responses will be ignored in the analysis. So, if your IP address is 24.108.156.161 – thank you for your time and effort, but unfortunately only your first response will be taken into account.

John Hodgkins, FAC Chair.

Bad weather hits February ferry traffic

Figures released by BC Ferries show that ferry traffic to and from Gabriola fell by around 10% in February compared to February 2016. See our Route 19 Performance page for more detail.

Although much of this reduction can be attributed to the bad winter weather we experienced throughout the month, around 3% of the variance is down to the fact that 2016 was a leap year, so February 2017 was one day shorter than the same month last year.

The bad weather hit traffic levels on major routes too, with traffic between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay down 12% compared to February 2016.

April 1 fare increase is cancelled

BC Ferries today announced that there would be no fare increase on any of the minor ferry routes on April 1, 2017 – despite the Ferry Commissioner sanctioning a 1.9% increase each year until 2019.

Fares will only increase on the three major ferry routes between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland – where the 1.9% increase will be applied to vehicle fares, but there will be no increase in passenger fares.

For passengers travelling with a car from Departure Bay or Duke Point, the vehicle fare will rise from $54.80 to $55.80, but the cost of vehicle reservations will fall by up to $5 for reservations made 7 days or more in advance.

BC Ferries says that the top-up level on Experience Cards will also remain unchanged.

The corporation says it is monitoring fuel prices closely though, with a reminder that the present 2.9% fuel rebate on ferry fares is still there….. for the time being.

FAC meets with BC Ferries and Ministry on traffic issues

On March 6th FAC members Heather O’Sullivan, Peggy Richardson and Steve Earle met with Darin Guenette,  John MacDonald and Lance Lomax of BC Ferries and Stu Johnson of the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MoTI).  The meeting had been called by BCF with the primary objective of discussing the FAC’s proposal to re-route the ferry line-up.  Other matters were also discussed.

Ferry line-up

We explained that our key issue is safety in the ferry line-up, and that we do not think it’s possible to make it safe on Taylor Bay Road.  There was discussion about U-turns, the width and curvature of Taylor Bay Road, the lack of room for a median barrier, the likely futility and high cost of flexible median separators, the slope of the shoulder on the west side of the road and the instability of the bank.

Stu indicated that MoTI have no intention of changing anything, that there is no money available and that he was not aware that this is a big issue for a majority of Gabriolans.  He said that a study would be needed before anything could be done.

With support from BCF we explained that this is a significant issue, that it is a major topic of conversation in many venues, and that at the November FAC meeting there were community members that supported our proposal for a change and none that did not support it.  While there are other road issues, everybody on Gabriola is affected by the ferry line-up, even those who are not lining up for the ferry.

Stu said that the only effective way to get MoTI’s attention, so that a study could be initiated, would be to write to the Minister, and that the message would filter down from there.  He said that it would help to get community groups, local government and other authorities (e.g., RCMP) to write as well, and that an expression of support from individual community members would also have some impact. FAC members will progress this.

North Road/Taylor Bay Road intersection

MoTI is going to be doing some major work at the intersection of Taylor Bay Road and North Road., starting either late this month or during April.  This will include replacement of the culvert on Taylor Bay Road and re-grading of the last few tens of metres of Taylor Bay Road so as to reduce the steep up-hill grade at the intersection itself.  Taylor Bay Road will be kept open throughout the project.

Descanso Bay parking

John MacDonald suggested that we try to get some community feedback on the problem of long-term parkers at the BCF Descanso Bay parking lot.  He wants to know what the community thinks the time limit should be (e.g., 12 h, 24 h, 48 h …).  Once an appropriate limit has been determined, BCF will install signage and will patrol the lot.  The FAC agreed to carry out a community survey.

Medical-assured loading

John MacDonald said that BCF is planning to move ahead with two medical assured loading spaces at the front of the Descanso Bay line-up, and has been working with MoTI to determine lane markings and signage.  He asked the FAC to work with the community and with health officials to create protocols for issuance of assured loading passes.

Snuneymuxw take over ferry service to Newcastle Island : fares cut to $5

grey-selkie

Photo : Snuneymuxw First Nation

Snuneymuxw First Nation has purchased the 48-seat vessel Grey Selkie from Victoria Harbour Ferry Co. to provide improved access and transportation to Newcastle Island while strengthening the Snuneymuxw economy. Fares for the round trip to Newcastle Island will be just $5 this year, down from the previous $9 fare – which was seen as a deterrent, especially for families.

NCI Ferry Service President Erralyn Thomas said they plan to run the ferry from April through October at the very least, and hope to provide limited access year-round, if demand is warranted. In her eyes, SFN taking over ferry service is a catalyst for further economic and cultural opportunities for Snuneymuxw. The new operator, NCI Ferry Service Ltd. is beneficially owned by Snuneymuxw First Nation and is responsible for NCI management and development.

The new ferry service starts on April 1 and will be as frequent as every half-hour in the peak summer period, running on a triangular route between the Waterfront Suites and Marina dock on Stewart Ave., Maffeo Sutton Park and Newcastle Island.