Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal

Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal


History and controversy

In 1889, former British Columbia Premier Amor de Cosmos, was the first person known to publicly suggest Swartz Bay as a feasible ferry terminal for connections to B.C.'s Lower Mainland. In 1959, the search for a new ferry terminal north of Victoria involved consideration of the existing San Juan Islands ferry facilities at Sidney. Insufficiently sheltered waters and added travel time leading to higher fuel costs, precluded Sidney, however. The Ships of British Columbia. Gary and Patricia Bannerman. 1985. Hancock House Publishers Ltd. pp.36,55,67,69,105]

A small, private ferry dock, operated by the Gulf Islands Ferry Company already existed at Swartz Bay, when the choice was made to locate the B.C. Ferry Corporation terminal there.The Ships of British Columbia. Gary and Patricia Bannerman. 1985. Hancock House Publishers Ltd. p.55] As a result of the decision, a paved extension of the Patricia Bay Highway to reach the terminal was undertaken.

The first scheduled sailing from the terminal, described as a "mudhole" at the time, due to the continuing construction of it, occurred on June 15, 1960.The Ships of British Columbia. Gary and Patricia Bannerman. 1985. Hancock House Publishers Ltd. p.67] On September 1, 1961 the company that built and used the smaller original dock at Swartz Bay was bought out by B.C. Ferries.

A fire, caused by a cutting torch, led to $500,000 worth of damage to the terminal in December, 1981. It destroyed part of the passenger walkway and a wingwall, prior to being contained by terminal staff, firefighters and the approaching Queen of Nanaimo, which utilized its hoses to help keep the blaze at bay.The Ships of British Columbia. Gary and Patricia Bannerman. 1985. Hancock House Publishers Ltd. p.69, 105]

Residents have expressed noise concerns over the years, and the matter has been raised in the Legislative Assembly. [ [http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/36th4th/h00706a.htm#17147 Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Hansard Services. Vol. 20 No. 23. Thursday July 6, 2000] ] Concerns ranging from terminal expansion to the shooting of pigeons at Swartz Bay by ferry staff, have also been expressed. [ [http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/36th4th/h00706a.htm#17147 Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Hansard Services. Vol. 18 No. 23. Monday April 17, 2000] ]

On September 14, 2000 the ferry "Spirit of Vancouver Island" struck a pleasure craft just off Swartz Bay, killing two. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2000/09/14/bc_accident000914.html Fatal ferry accident. CBC News. September 14, 2000] ]

Ferry facilities and connections

Currently there are five ferry berths at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. The terminal provides BC Ferry service to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal on the mainland, as well as all the major southern Gulf Islands.In the mid 1990s, a major terminal renovation was undertaken.

The terminal includes an administration building, and various kiosks run by local artisans and other vendors mainly in the warmer months. There is also a cafeteria and coffee shop in the main building.

The terminal is served by public transit through the Victoria Regional Transit System's 70 (Swartz Bay/Downtown/Airport) route. Short-and-long-term pay parking is run by a private operator under contract to BCFS. The terminal is located about 10 minutes from Victoria International Airport via Highway 17.


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