Lease terms settled for Island Ferries terminal

NANAIMO – The city and Island Ferries have ended land lease negotiations.

A new lease agreement with the City of Nanaimo is a “significant milestone,” according to an Island Ferries spokesman, who says the company can now focus almost exclusively on clinching final investment.

The City of Nanaimo and Island Ferries have reached a land lease deal for a foot ferry service on the south industrial waterfront.

The agencies have been ironing out the details of a 20-year lease since they announced an agreement in principle last March. The new deal includes changes from the early proposal, like additional land for Island Ferries and an option for the city to use airspace above the terminal.

Island Ferries will pay $52,000 annually to dock two catamarans at a property spanning 1.1 hectares, as well as just over $15,000 each year for a road right-of-way. It’s also agreed to pay for a parking area, either through net revenue or a monthly fee. The City of Nanaimo will service the ferry site for $125,000.

According to David Marshall, director of marine operations for Island Ferries, the agreement is a big piece of the puzzle for a new passenger ferry service.

The organization has been trying to secure final investment since details about the ferries were made public last October.

“We have advanced our equity discussions to a point that with this lease, it increases our confidence in our ability to be operating by early next year,” he said, adding the new lease allows Island Ferries to focus virtually exclusively on closing the last of the money.

Mayor John Ruttan said the contract was important to both parties and is a step forward in the long march toward getting a passenger service re-established.

The long-term lease includes two renewable terms and a relocation clause that will allow the city to move the terminal to another site on the industrial waterfront. The agreement still needs final approval from the City of Nanaimo.