Foot ferry proponents draft terminal design

Island Ferries is presenting designs for a terminal on the south downtown waterfront as it strives to be service-ready next March.

Island Ferries has submitted a development permit application to the City of Nanaimo for its new passenger-only ferry terminal on the south industrial waterfront.

It’s proposing a temporary facility that would see the renovation of an existing, heavy-timber building, as well as shipping-container washrooms, a small concession and covered walkways.

The $63-million foot ferry service between Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver still needs to settle terms with Translink and secure final investment, but David Marshall, director of marine operations, said his company wouldn’t be spending money on consultants and architects to advance design of the terminal if it didn’t have some degree of confidence.

“Any time you’re investing money it’s always done with a certain amount of risk, but you try to manage that a little bit and ... to use the term, you try not to get too far ahead of your own headlights,” he said. “But we also know that in order to start service by the end of March there are things that we have to do on the design side, on the engineering side, on the regulatory side and getting approval from the city … that takes time.”

Island Ferries didn’t have any hard numbers for how much it will cost to prepare its 1.1-hectare site for the new ferry service, but Marshall estimates it will cost several million dollars.

The facility will be temporary in anticipation of the city asking the company to shift over to the Seaspan site once it becomes available.

Concepts are expected to be reviewed by the city’s design advisory panel within the next 10 to 14 days.

To see the designs for the proposed foot ferry, please visit

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