Capital Expenditure Near Swartz Bay

Commission’s Question to BC Ferries:

There have been reports of BC Ferries funding highway improvements outside the boundaries of Swartz Bay terminal. Is this the case and if so what is the (a) business case and (b) legal foundation including ownership status of the works.

BC Ferries’ response:

In order to alleviate congestion as a priority and to respond to complaints from BC Ferries’ customers, a project was developed and this phase of the project has been advanced and is currently in the preliminary design stage. It is anticipated that the design will be completed by January 2005 and construction completed by May 2005.

This phase provides for improvements to Highway 17 to manage and control traffic at the southern approach to the terminal.

Currently at peak periods, traffic backs up and can be gridlocked from the ticket booths southwards along Highway 17 to Wain Road and occasionally beyond. The widening of Highway 17 between Wain Road and Lands End Road will improve access to the Terminal and Lands End Road for both ferry traffic and local traffic. The highway widening will entail the following works:

  • Utilization of existing two (2) lanes for Vancouver standby traffic.
  • Addition of a third northbound lane from Wain Road to the ticket booths to be used for assured loading, reservations and Southern Gulf Island traffic. This lane will have the potential to include a raised island for pedestrian refuge and to improve traffic separation if deemed necessary.
  • Extension of the north bound off ramp to Lands End road to provide improved access not only for the foot passenger terminal and but also for local residents when the highway lanes are congested.

In consideration of improvements made to other highway segments owned by the Ministry of Transportation, BC Ferries will be granted an operating lease on approximately 2,400 meters of highway leading up to the Swartz Bay terminal. The exact highway property subject to lease has yet to be determined. The area chosen for inclusion into the lease will be primarily an extension of the pre-ticket holding compound and vehicles entering this area will be effectively entering the terminal compound with no further opportunity to exit Highway 17.

The existing land lease arrangement with the BCTFA will be amended to include the addition of this segment of highway. The lease will be for the same term and with the same conditions as the existing property leases with BCTFA.

The Ministry of Transportation will have responsibility for the cost of ongoing maintenance and eventual replacement of the highway improvements outside the leased boundary