Nanaimo and port authority seek proposals for passenger ferry to mainland

NANAIMO – Island Ferries has concerns with call for expressions of interest made last week by City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Port Authority.

Nanaimo Port Authority and City of Nanaimo opened the door to fast ferry proposals with an eye to attract firms with proven track records in the business.

It’s a process that concerns Island Ferries, which held the lease to run a multimillion-dollar ferry service until it expired last year.

The City of Nanaimo announced this week its issued an expression of interest for a high-speed foot ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver with involvement from the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The new process will allow proponents to choose whether to establish service at the port authority’s cruise ship terminal or the city-owned property at 1 Port Dr., and requires consultation with First Nations and proof of sufficient financial backing.

Both the city and the port authority make it clear they are interested ferry operations beginning as soon as possible and want proposals from firms with proven track records of operating passenger-only ferry services.

It’s the latter that concerns Island Ferries because it’s a new company.

“The statement [on track record] appears to exclude Island Ferries. At the very least, it would establish a clear preference for an operator other than Island Ferries,” said company spokesman Dave Marshall, who also raises concern about evaluation criteria not being available and the use of its proprietary information. It sought a fairness advisor this year to ensure the process is fair and to provide assurance for proponents and taxpayers, but Marshall said the recommendation was rejected.

Bernie Dumas, CEO and president of Nanaimo Port Authority, said Island Ferries will have as equal a chance as anybody and the referred-to statement does not express a preference. It was meant to enhance the level of service sought.

The system set up with the city will be “very, very transparent” and there will be a third-party advisory group created to review applicants, said Dumas, who did not consider the proposal of a fairness advisor necessary because confidential information given by companies is retained in files.

“We responded to Mr. Marshall saying that we understood his position, but he has nothing to fear because that information is prevalent to them and our dealings with them over … almost five years, so that’s not going to be used,” he said. “We are going to take a fresh start and all the applicants are going to be from Day 1 like nothing ever happened in the past.”

The plan had been for the port and city to issue a request for proposals, which Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, said is when there’s a readiness to enter into a contract for goods or services. This process is looking at interest and talking about two potential sites. The successful proponent would enter into more detailed negotiations based on whichever site is selected, he said.

The expression of interest closes May 31.

Nanaimo Port Authority and City of Nanaimo opened the door to fast ferry proposals with an eye to attract firms with proven track records in the business.

It’s a process that concerns Island Ferries, which held the lease to run a multimillion-dollar ferry service until it expired last year.

The City of Nanaimo announced this week its issued an expression of interest for a high-speed foot ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver with involvement from the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The new process will allow proponents to choose whether to establish service at the port authority’s cruise ship terminal or the city-owned property at 1 Port Dr., and requires consultation with First Nations and proof of sufficient financial backing.

Both the city and the port authority make it clear they are interested ferry operations beginning as soon as possible and want proposals from firms with proven track records of operating passenger-only ferry services.

It’s the latter that concerns Island Ferries because it’s a new company.

“The statement [on track record] appears to exclude Island Ferries. At the very least, it would establish a clear preference for an operator other than Island Ferries,” said company spokesman Dave Marshall, who also raises concern about evaluation criteria not being available and the use of its proprietary information. It sought a fairness advisor this year to ensure the process is fair and to provide assurance for proponents and taxpayers, but Marshall said the recommendation was rejected.

Bernie Dumas, CEO and president of Nanaimo Port Authority, said Island Ferries will have as equal a chance as anybody and the referred-to statement does not express a preference. It was meant to enhance the level of service sought.

The system set up with the city will be “very, very transparent” and there will be a third-party advisory group created to review applicants, said Dumas, who did not consider the proposal of a fairness advisor necessary because confidential information given by companies is retained in files.

“We responded to Mr. Marshall saying that we understood his position, but he has nothing to fear because that information is prevalent to them and our dealings with them over … almost five years, so that’s not going to be used,” he said. “We are going to take a fresh start and all the applicants are going to be from Day 1 like nothing ever happened in the past.”

The plan had been for the port and city to issue a request for proposals, which Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, said is when there’s a readiness to enter into a contract for goods or services. This process is looking at interest and talking about two potential sites. The successful proponent would enter into more detailed negotiations based on whichever site is selected, he said.

The expression of interest closes May 31.