Saturday, June 22, 2024
June 22, 2024

Viewpoint: Cupboard bare for terminal improvements

BY DAVID COURTNEY

On March 22, 2024 BC Ferries advised: “As a result, we have had to defer or adjust the scope of some of our previously planned projects to work within available funds.

For more on project impacts for Salt Spring Island [and Crofton], please read on . . .Crofton and Vesuvius terminal projects will focus on the berth replacements in their original location to ensure the continued reliability of our infrastructure and to prepare the terminals for the introduction of two new Island Class vessels in 2027.”

Meanwhile, BC Ferries management has commissioned four new all-electric Island Class vessels to be built for approximately $200 million for delivery in 2027 for Route 19 Nanaimo-Gabriola Island and Route 23 Campbell River-Quadra Island. We receive the two hybrid vessels from Route 19, at that point in service for five years. BC Ferries has recently secured a $75-million loan from a federal government entity to electrify the above terminals for approximately $40 million.

We are now told the cupboard is bare for terminal improvements at Vesuvius Bay and Crofton for the first time in 50 years. This after funds were secured from the BC Ferries Commissioner in 2023 — seriously? The plans for the Vesuvius Bay terminal have been approved since 2019. Most recently the plans for Concept B at the Crofton terminal have been in place with improvements being first talked about in 2015.

Meanwhile, the BC Ferries management team have decided they can’t provide proper washroom facilities and a boarding lounge for our school children and workers going back and forth on a daily basis at both terminals. In this day and age it’s basically a dismal situation. Why? We’ve allowed it to happen due to our own inaction over the last 25 years. The Town of Crofton has always been left out of the equation. They should sit and be represented by the Salt Island Ferry Advisory Committee as a joint team effort for Route 6. Since the mid ‘70s we as Salt Springers have made a parking lot out of Chaplin Street in Crofton.

“The Fix for Route 6” petition began 29 months ago and is still an ongoing concern with 2,256 petitioners, simply because we were skeptical of BC Ferries making good on their commitments. Sadly, we’ve had the rug pulled out from under us with the recent news release from BC Ferries management team.

The most salient question for the BC Ferries management team is how do they intend to dismantle the Crofton trestle and berth and build a new steel pile and concrete deck/trestle simultaneously on the same site? To date there has been no reply on the logistics.

Can we assume that there will be no answer other than to shut down the Crofton terminal for months in the summer of 2026?

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