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Snug Cove Terminal work starting in November

Sailing cancellations will take place during the majority of the three-month project
Snug Cove Ferry Terminal on Bowen Island in July 2023.

The Snug Cove Ferry Terminal will undergo life-extending maintenance starting this winter.

While the long-term plan is a full replacement of the berth in 2030, several pieces of work are necessary in the meantime to ensure the travel hub lasts until the next decade. This includes reinforcement of the ramp, repairing the wing walls, and replacing mechanical equipment.

The work will affect Bowen ferry traffic for a few months, beginning with a planned start date shortly after Remembrance Day in November and lasting into February. During that time two sailings a day will be eliminated, and there will likely be one to two days a month with no ferry service.

Crews will be performing work on the terminal overnight, which means the two sailings to be cut will either be the last two sailings of the night, or the last sailing of the night and first sailing in the morning. The decision will be based on public feedback over the coming days, including a joint information and workshop session at Bowen Island Community School on Tuesday, Sept. 19. There will be no cancellations during the holiday season, between Dec. 20 and Jan. 5.

BC Ferries project manager Jesse Lightman appeared before Bowen council on Monday to outline the plan, and address options for the cancelled sailings. The longer closures which are expected to take place once a month are scheduled to start on a Friday night after the final sailing, last through all of Saturday, and hopefully finish in time to resume service on Sunday. During this time water taxis will be available for foot passengers in place of the regular schedule, and free parking will be offered in Horseshoe Bay, but there will be no option to transport a vehicle on or off-island. Lightman says the company will provide 30 days notice before these extended berth closures.

Mayor Andrew Leonard noted he hasn’t heard much so far from Bowen residents about the project. Given the significant impact it will have, he says it’s likely that many Islanders aren’t fully aware of it yet, and asked if BC Ferries could utilize as many messaging methods as possible over the next two months to let people know.

“The type of traffic that occurs from September to May or June is really driven by the community use of ferry-going to the mainland and returning… These are residents who need to get to work, who need to get to medical appointments, who need to go grocery shopping, who need to access sports team and community centres,” says Leonard.

“The ferry being Bowen Island’s only means to access the mainland by vehicle, and an easier way to access the mainland as a foot passenger and connect to public transit, it’s really a disruption of service that for two sailings a day no longer makes the mainland and any of its amenities accessible to residents,” added the mayor.

And, Leonard pointed out these disruptions will not be new for the island. “Bowen Island residents for the past two years now, especially since the pandemic, have been facing a degradation of service and increased pressures from BC Ferries in terms of schedule issues to cancellations to the ability to access the mainland and get back to island that’s affecting liveability for residents on the island.”

The mayor asked if not cancelling any sailings was considered and instead having the project extend further into the spring, pointing out that no matter which sailings are ultimately cancelled either early-morning commuters or late-night ferry users will be impacted. Lightman answered that “For the sake of expediting the work before the next busy season and trying to have the least amount of impact, we believe this is the path forward with the least amount of impact on the community.”

Next Tuesday’s community session at BICS with BC Ferries to discuss the project begins with a presentation at 5:30 pm, followed by a workshop from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

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