Updated: Jan 29
Greenline turns to communities for guidance on assembling the ‘building blocks’ of a new ferry service
The evening of Greenline’s open house in Gibsons last Tuesday was a typical for January: cold, with intermittent rain. But that didn’t stop nearly 150 people from coming out to the Gibsons Public Market building to meet the Greenline team and weigh in on what a new passenger-only ferry service should look like in their community.
Greenline held two open houses last week in communities that will be served by its proposed new ferry service: Gibsons and Bowen Island. The team members – Callum, Laura, Nick and Kris – were on site in these communities, sharing the plans to date and listening to feedback from community members. Greenline co-hosted the open house with three local community organizations focused on transportation: the Sunshine Coast Electric Vehicle Association, Coastal Rides, and Transportation Choices.
Greenline’s approach to the new service is to present the ‘building blocks’ – that is, elements of the ferry service such as routes, terminals, parking, vessels, and crew – and open up conversations directly with community members about how the building blocks should come together in the most effective way. CEO Callum Campbell is well-versed in these ferry service building blocks through his two decades of experience in government and in private industry.
“In Gibsons, we had an eager crowd that came to learn about Greenline showing the keen interest in this service,” says Campbell. “We heard very clearly that people are looking for transportation options that will open up their community in new ways while reducing environmental impact.”
On Bowen Island, he says, the open house drew a smaller crowd with mainly community leaders – mayor and council members as well as prominent businesspeople on the island.
Here are some of the main questions and concerns heard at these open house events:
Many people in both communities asked about the docking locations for the new proposed service. Here are some of the locations we are looking at:
Gibsons: Gibsons already has a busy marine harbour, balancing the needs of commercial fisheries and recreational boaters (amongst others). Because the Greenline’s proposed vessel is all-electric, it will require a dedicated berth designed for charging the battery between sailings. We will be looking to into minor additions to existing facilities to accommodate the needs of the vessel.
Bowen Island: The water taxi dock at Snug Cove (adjacent to the existing BC Ferries berth) is well suited as a docking location. A potential alternative is Seymour Bay. The Greenline team heard strong cases on both sides, and will be following up with community representatives for further discussions.
Vancouver: In Vancouver the outer berths of the SeaBus terminal have been used by passenger-only ferries in the past and provide an ideal location for berthing, owing to the proximity to transit, ride-hail, and car-share services.
PARKING & TRAFFIC
Many people also asked about how parking and traffic would be addressed. The Greenline service is designed to help coastal travellers make connections without a car, so seamless connections to land transportation modes are essential. This is why Greenline intends to leverage ride-hail, car share, and transit, and where possible, advocate for expanding these services so people can leave their cars at home. We recognize that in general, parking is in very short supply around the harbour area, making extra parking very difficult. However, for drop-offs, we will be looking at a kiss-and-go area near the ferry terminals. We will also be looking at the feasibility of offsite parking, with a shuttle bus to connect people to the ferry.
The cost of fares was also a top question at both open houses. While a lot of factors go into determining the ticket price, for both Gibsons and Bowen Island, pricing will be set to motivate commuters to choose a passenger ferry over a car ferry when they do not need a car at their destination. It will be competitively priced with the car ferry and not designed to appeal to tourists only.
Anyone from Gibsons or Bowen Island who didn’t make it to the open house and wishes to contribute their thoughts can fill out Greenline’s online survey until Feb 28th, 2023.