On the Street: B.C. Ferries wants your thoughts on new vessels

B.C. Ferries wants to hear from its passengers.

The corporation, which will be building five new vessels to replace four that run between Vancouver Island and the mainland, wants customers and communities to weigh in with ideas that could shape the onboard experience on the new vessels.

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Between March 12 and April 12, customers are invited to share their feedback online.

There will also be a chance to participate in customer engagement on the affected routes.

“There is still a lot to be decided as we work to keep fares affordable, reduce our environmental impact, plan for future flexibility and enhance the onboard experience for customers,” said Mark Collins, chief executive of B.C. Ferries. “This is an opportunity to get informed and provide feedback on the newest additions to our fleet as they are being designed.”

The new ferries will replace Queen of New Westminster, Queen of Alberni, Queen of Coquitlam and Queen of Cowichan.

The new ships are being designed to minimize underwater noise and reduce environmental impact, and will enter service in the mid-2020s.

B.C. Ferries is hoping to get feedback on the kinds of improvements and services people want to see on board, food and beverage options, seating options, children’s play areas, pet areas, outdoor areas, suggestions for lowering the greenhouse gas profile and any new ideas to enhance the customer experience.

The feedback received will be used to help inform the detailed design of the vessels. Ferries expects to award a contract to build the vessels next year.

Downtown group to launch survey

In a bid to determine the issues faced by businesses in Victoria’s core, the Downtown Victoria Business Association is launching what it hopes will be an annual survey.

The DVBA intends to contact each of its 1,500 members to get an idea of business performance, the experience of operating downtown and issues the businesses face.

“We hope to hear from as many businesses as possible. We will be using the data from this report, in the aggregate, to establish baselines for regular monitoring,” said Jeff Bray, executive director of the DVBA. “With solid, quantifiable data, we will be able to speak on behalf of businesses with more authority and clarity.”

Information collected form the first annual report on downtown business, which will be available this summer.

“Over the past five years, we have focused on expanding the impact the DVBA has on downtown and the capacity of the organization itself. With the assistance of new partners and sponsors, we’ve created, and helped to create, several exciting new events for the summer and shoulder seasons,” said DVBA chair Kathy Hogan. “Now we hope to focus on those issues which matter most to our downtown businesses.”

The survey will be administered by Chemistry Consulting.

New management for Qualicum Inn

Kingsbridge Management has added the Qualicum Beach Inn to its boutique hotel portfolio. The Victoria-based hotel management company currently manages the Oswego Hotel. The 32-room Qualicum Beach Inn was updated in 2014 with a major renovation and a rebranding of the property, formerly known as the Old Dutch Inn.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing our vision and expertise to Qualicum Beach Inn to create a truly spectacular hotel,” said Kingsbridge chief executive Suzanne Gatrell.

“Top of our list is to begin a seamless transition with the staff, guests and the community of Qualicum Beach.”

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