Heading to Bowen Island? There are new rules for the car line-up for the ferry ride home

Bowen Island Undercurrent

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With the population swells of summer tourism already hitting the island, Bowen Island Municipality is battening down the crosshatches.

Council adopted a bylaw at its regular council meeting Monday evening to regulate one of the more dramatic aspects of Bowen life: the ferry lineup. The bylaw has been in the works since mid-2018 after frustrations over ferry overloads and Cove traffic congestion came to a head following a last year’s busy tourist season.

Bowen Island Ferry. Undercurrent file photo.

The amendment to the Use of Streets Bylaw gives the municipality the means to address common lineup issues such as leaving and filling gaps, line cutting and pulling up close to the next vehicle in line.

“We heard concerns voiced throughout the community,” said Mayor Gary Ander in a BIM press release Tuesday. “We’ll be keeping an eye on things over the next six months to make sure these new rules are helping make the high volumes more manageable.”

The press release says that bylaw officers will monitor the lineup during the commuter sailings during the week and during historically busy weekends in the summer. There will be public education and communication over that time and after six months Council will hear a status update on the undertaking.

The ferry lineup. Photo by Bronwyn Beairsto/Bowen Island Undercurrent

Only councillor Alison Morse voted against the bylaw. She has long held that “you can’t regulate good behaviour” and that enforcing the bylaw will be a waste of money.

The new rules are:

  • “All ferry traffic must enter the ferry line-up behind the last vehicle in the ferry line or in the first open space closest to the ferry dock.”
  •  In the case where there are two lanes of the ferry line-up, ferry traffic must line-up in the shorter lane where traffic is closer to the ferry dock.
  • All vehicles must pull up within 0.6 metres of the vehicle next ahead in the ferry lineup or at the start of a cross-hatched area.
  • When parking at the start of a cross-hatched area, no portion of the vehicle may cover the cross-hatched area.
  • All vehicles must only enter the ferry line-up for the purpose of waiting to board the next available sailing [though no person shall park overnight in the ferry lane.]”
  • “No person shall stop in the ferry lane other than to wait for the next available ferry.”