Colwood promoting commuter ferry via social media

Colwood Mayor Rob Martin hit the water for a video aimed at convincing the provincial government to study the idea of a commuter ferry between Royal Bay and downtown Victoria.

The three-minute video was launched on YouTube this week.

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Along with Martin in a boat, it features the mayors of Victoria and Esquimalt, representatives from business groups, West Shore developers, marine and educational officials, and a senior member of B.C. Ferries’ team.

The video is part of ­Colwood’s ongoing efforts to convince the province to fund a comprehensive feasibility study into the passenger ferry concept.

B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming and Martin met online this week to discuss the proposal.

Martin is hoping for a more favourable outcome with ­Fleming than with former transportation minister Claire Travena, who asked B.C. Ferries in 2019 to drop the commuter ferry idea.

Martin has already won backing from the Capital Regional District.

The vision is to develop a “multi-modal transportation system within Greater Victoria,” Martin said Friday.

“As leaders, we really see this as us visioning for the next 50 years,” he said. “We need to look at every opportunity to be moving people more effectively around our region.”

On the video, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said about 7,000 people arrive in her community daily, many from the West Shore.

A direct water route from the West Shore would cut travelling time in half and reduce vehicle traffic. It would be a “wonderful addition to transportation around the region,” she said.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said Greater Victoria’s population is growing and the region needs to find more ways to sustainably move people around. “It’s time to take that next step to do the feasibility study. Let’s get the details. Let’s understand how many people can be moved, at what cost, with what kinds of greenhouse-gas emissions reductions.”

Capt. Jamie Marshall, B.C. Ferries’ vice president of shipbuilding and innovation, said traffic congestion to and from West Shore communities has increased and a “multi-pronged transportation approach” that includes a passenger-only ferry service could be beneficial.

B.C.’s Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry said in a Friday statement that it’s considering B.C. Ferries’ proposed West Shore ferry as part of its South Island Transportation Strategy, as one way “marine travel could improve the way we get around in the region.”

“We are aware of the concerns people have with traffic congestion on the South Island, particularly from people commuting in from the West Shore and Malahat,” said the ministry’s statement.

The September 2020 South Island Transportation Strategy was set up to look at all modes of transportation and prioritize where investments could make significant improvements to traffic flow and congestion, the ministry said.

A ferry feasibility study may be considered at a future date, it said.

As B.C. emerges from the pandemic, the ministry will be looking at near-term priorities set out in the transportation strategy, which include transit improvements and active ­transportation infrastructure on the South Island, the ministry said.

“We look forward to further discussions with our partners on the South Island about how we can work together to lessen congestion and make life easier for people commuting in from the West Shore.”

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

• To view the video, go to youtube.com/watch?v=wiyy05disSo

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