BC Ferries floats ideas for major revamp of Swartz Bay terminal

Times Colonist

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Travellers could find themselves enjoying a waterfront boardwalk and park along with an expanded foot-passenger building when they head to Swartz Bay ferry terminal in the not-too-distant future.

The ideas have been highlighted as part of a public-consultation effort in preparation for a major, multi-year revamp at Swartz Bay.

Artist’s rendering of what a renovated Swartz Bay terminal could look like. Improving pick-up and drop-off facilities was one of the publicÕs suggestions as B.C. Ferries plans an upgrade at Swartz Bay to handle more traffic. Detailed plans are expected to be developed by the end of the year. October 2018
Photograph By B.C. FERRIES

B.C. Ferries wants to upgrade the terminal so that it can handle more traffic and to make it “a more efficient and pleasurable experience for customers.”

“We don’t expect construction for the new terminal to begin until about 2021,” said B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Tessa Humphries.

She said there is no cost estimate so far. “We don’t have a final plan, so there’s been no budget established for the work.”

B.C. Ferries sought suggestions in Phase 1 of its public consultation and produced design concepts based on those suggestions in Phase 2. It’s now heading to Phase 3, which will see more detailed plans developed by the end of the year.

The park is envisioned as a spot with amenities such as a covered market, coffee kiosk and food trucks. There was support for adding a boardwalk. “Looks like a nice space for everyone including pets and wheelchairs,” one person wrote to B.C. Ferries. Another suggested covered seating for hot or rainy weather.

More than 500 people have given their opinions, participating online, at pop-up events and at stakeholder and employee workshops.

Artist’s rendering of what a renovated Swartz Bay terminal could look like. Improving pick-up and drop-off facilities was one of the publicÕs suggestions as B.C. Ferries plans an upgrade at Swartz Bay to handle more traffic. Detailed plans are expected to be developed by the end of the year. October 2018

Other possibilities include an expanded foot-passenger building and improved pick-up and drop-off facilities.

“They were asked: ‘Do these options meet your needs? What would you prefer? What would you like to see?’ ” said Humphries.

While Phase 3 will produce a development proposal, “it is important to note that that concept, when it’s released, is still a draft,” Humphries said. “It’s not a final plan. We need to move into the detailed-design portion of terminal redevelopment, which will have further public engagement, before we actually start on construction and final design.”

Other ideas that have been pitched include a pub and lounge in the terminal, a basketball court, better bicycling facilities, more places for pets, better food options, better Wi-Fi, and a covered area for people waiting for buses.

Swartz Bay terminal is the second busiest in the B.C. Ferries system behind Tsawwassen and has more than seven million passengers a year going through it.

The terminal was opened in 1930 and sits on 22.7 hectares.

Improvements over the years include the 1959 addition of the Lands End Café building, the building of a control tower in 1992, revamping of the terminal building in the mid-1990s and expansion of vehicle waiting areas in 2007.

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