B.C. Ferries is planning a rebuild of Swartz Bay terminal and wants to hear suggestions from the public.
No budget has been established and work is not expected to begin before the early 2020s, said Mark Wilson, B.C. Ferries vice-president of strategy and community engagement.
“But we want to get out in front because we recognize how important the terminal at Swartz Bay is to our overall system,” Wilson said.
“Right now, we just need to have people tell us what they need during this brainstorming and blue-sky visioning process.”
Wilson said 35 per cent of all B.C. Ferries passengers go through Swartz Bay terminal and it accounts for 40 per cent of corporate revenues. It’s B.C. Ferries’ second busiest terminal after Tsawwassen. “It touches upon many, many of our customers.”
The terminal, on 22.7 hectares at the tip of the Saanich Peninsula, was built in 1930, and has undergone numerous changes since then.
In 1992, the control tower went up. In the mid-1990s, the terminal building was overhauled to improve facilities for foot passengers. In 2007, the vehicle waiting area was enlarged and now consists of 53 holding lanes with room for 982 vehicles.
As part of the next major overhaul, some elements, such as the Lands End Café building, built in 1959, will likely need to be replaced.
The changing demographics of ferry travellers will also need to be factored in, Wilson said. More people are connecting to ferry terminals via public transport and walking on board vessels, for example.
An increasing number of people expect to travel with their pets. So B.C. Ferries must look at what accommodations can be made.
The various people who ride the ferries expect different things. Tourists from outside B.C. are expecting a different experience and services than, for example, people who commute regularly from Salt Spring or Gabriola islands.
Wilson said even travellers from within British Columbia will approach B.C. Ferries with different expectations. For example, well over 90 per cent of people who live on Vancouver Island have ridden on B.C. Ferries. But more than half of the people on the Lower Mainland never have. “Our clients are quite diverse. So we have to balance and understand all their needs and wants as best we can.”
From mid-May to early June, B.C. Ferries plans to conduct a series of workshops with various stakeholders, including local governments, nearby residents, businesses and customers. Pop-up sessions at the terminal will occur May 24, 25 and June 2. An online survey will be launched May 24.
From June to July, B.C. Ferries will conduct workshops, more pop-up events and another online survey to establish what options should become priorities.
From August to September, concepts will be unveiled for more discussion through workshops, open houses, pop-up events and online surveys.
• For more information and to sign up for updates go online to bcferries.com/swbvision.