BC Ferries hints at increasing capacity on Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay route
BC Ferries is floating the idea of higher-capacity vessels in the Saanich Inlet following the latest major crash on the Malahat Highway.
The MV Klitsa currently serves the Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay route, shuttling fewer than 200 vehicles a day.
The ferry's capacity for roughly 22 cars is a pittance compared to the 25,000 vehicles that traverse the Malahat Highway daily to and from Victoria.
When the Malahat is shut down, like the May 24 crash that closed the route for nearly 10 hours, the ferry becomes one of the only alternatives to travel into B.C.'s capital.
It's prompted a growing call for better transportation options, including from BC Ferries, whose CEO said Wednesday that the company is open to ideas.
"There are ways that a ferry service could provide a genuine alternative to the highway," said CEO Mark Collins. "Perhaps a couple of ferries in the 150-car range shuttling back and forth during peak times, that could really move some serious traffic."
He said with a bigger ferry, a different route might be needed – potentially replacing the existing Brentwood Bay terminal with a new one in Patricia Bay on the Saanich Peninsula.
The head of the Brentwood Bay Ferry Association said the idea of a bigger ferry from a different spot might work.
"If you could get a ferry on the run with a capacity for 150 cars, that would be a significant difference," said Ian Cameron.
It's an idea that drivers who take the route seemed to get behind.
"That would be great. That would be amazing, because often I've been left behind," one driver told CTV News.
The province also seems open to the idea, telling CTV News it will be exploring a variety of passenger and car ferry options.
Premier John Horgan also resurrected the old idea of building a bridge across the Saanich Inlet in comments he made in late May.
"I think that's certainly something we should dust off and have discussions with the Indigenous communities, have discussions with the travelling public, and see if that's a possibility," he said at the time.
When the study was completed in 2007 under the then-BC Liberal government, it estimated costs for such a bridge to be in the $700-million to $1.2-billion range.