Consultants hired to review foot ferry operators

The City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Port Authority and Snuneymuxw First Nation have chosen the members of the new technical advisory group.

A new technical advisory group will help Nanaimo officials pick a winning foot-ferry operator.

The City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Port Authority will pay up to $20,000 for consultants of a new advisory group, appointed last month, to review proposals by three potential foot-ferry operators and make a recommendation this October.

Island Ferries, Clipper Navigation and Australian-company Riverside Marine submitted expressions of interest earlier this year to operate a passenger ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and Vancouver at the south industrial waterfront. A technical group was appointed by the city, Snuneymuxw First Nation and port authority in late July to analyze proposals. Consultants include chartered accounting firm Ernst and Young and marine consultant Gordon Houston Associates, a press release shows.

The idea was to also have a member-at-large look at proposals, but Jeet Manhas, outgoing chairman of the Port Authority board, said the committee wants experts to analyze the proposals and didn’t think the member-at-large would be of benefit to the technical advisory group.

The advisory group will analyze from an accounting and marine side, including companies’ finances and ability to run the service, according to Manhas, who said the group was struck to provide transparency and ensure there’s no bias.

“I’m excited that the local three levels of government … they are all working together – the Snuneymuxw First Nation, city council and port authority – and it is something that’s going to help all three organizations and also the city of Nanaimo,” he said.

Manhas said consultants will either select a group or company or rank them so it will be up to the committee members to make recommendations to their councils and board.