The Island Aurora that runs from Port McNeill to Alert Bay and Sointula. Two ferries of the same type will eventually operate on the Crofton-Vesuvius route. (BC Ferries photo)

The Island Aurora that runs from Port McNeill to Alert Bay and Sointula. Two ferries of the same type will eventually operate on the Crofton-Vesuvius route. (BC Ferries photo)

Two-ferry service coming to Crofton-Vesuvius route by 2026

Petition leads BC Ferries to commit to plan and ramp up terminal improvements

Perseverance pays off.

Salt Spring Island resident David Courtney spearheaded a campaign that eventually secured more than 2,100 signatures on a petition, asking BC Ferries for a two-ferry service between Crofton and Vesuvius Bay on Salt Spring Island to alleviate overcrowding at terminals on both sides of Stuart Channel.

Related story: Petition for improved Crofton-Vesuvius ferry service approaching 1,800 signatures

The plea has been heard by BC Ferries and definitive action will be taken. Crofton-Vesuvius is included in plans and proposals for the next four years along with a 12-year outlook highlighted by BC Ferries in a newsletter dated Oct. 4 and sent to the BC Ferries Commissioner for approval.

“They’ve actually come through with the two-ferry service and they’re going to bring two brand new ferries,” said Courtney.

“This is all going to happen by the fall of 2026 and that’s a reasonable time frame.”

The service upgrade will be complemented by two new ferry terminals at Vesuvius Bay and Crofton. A plan for Crofton has been in the works for years and stalled since COVID, but plans will literally ramp up again before too long.

“These are the first real tangible changes to Route 6 in 50 years,” enthused Courtney.

He was grateful to all the petitioners for taking the time to sign and have a large collective voice heard.

There will be many logistical things to work out between now and the 2026 implementation, but it’s a starting point. BC Ferries will have two of the smaller Island Class vessels yet to be built to work the route.

This will be identical to the two-ferry service commissioned on Route 19 from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island during April.

“That means ferry service every 35 minutes from Vesuvius Bay and Crofton during peak demand times throughout the day,” pointed out Courtney. “Finally we have recognized and addressed our service and traffic gridlock at both terminals.”

He acknowledged the important roles in the decision played by Jill Sharland, the recently-appointed interim chief executive officer of BC Ferries as well as Brian Anderson, the vice president of strategy and community engagement; the BC Ferries board of directors and chair Joy MacPhail; Rob Fleming, the minister of transportation and infrastructure; Premier John Horgan and Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen.

Courtney added kudos to North Cowichan mayor Al Siebring and council; the residents of Crofton, Ladysmith and Duncan; Chamber of Commerce presidents Stephanie Ballantyne (Chemainus), Cheri Mactier (Ladysmith) and Julie Scurr (Duncan); Courier editor Don Bodger; the Salt Spring Exchange; and Gulf Islands Driftwood for all the support.

Courtney has devoted a great deal of time and effort on getting action on the issue with traffic and gridlock only projected to keep intensifying.

“It’s a ton of work,” he conceded. “I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on this.”


@chemainusnews
don.bodger@chemainusvalleycourier.ca

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The MV Quinsam is currently operating on the Crofton-Vesuvius route, but will be going in for a refit Nov. 1 and the Quinitsa will be put back in its place until Dec. 22. David Courtney said the larger capacity of the Quinsam actually made a difference this summer to the overcrowding situation. (File photo by Don Bodger)

The MV Quinsam is currently operating on the Crofton-Vesuvius route, but will be going in for a refit Nov. 1 and the Quinitsa will be put back in its place until Dec. 22. David Courtney said the larger capacity of the Quinsam actually made a difference this summer to the overcrowding situation. (File photo by Don Bodger)

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