The Nanaimo Port Authority says it will increase passenger fees in order to provide better security for the harbour.
Effective Oct. 1, the fee will rise to 25 cents per passenger, from 15 cents. Senior citizens, disabled people and students will still be charged 15 cents. The authority said it has been tasked with more responsibilities over the last 10 years, including marine security.
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The fees will apply to people taking ferries to and from Departure Bay and Duke Point, as well as people taking floatplanes from the harbour. Ferry riders to Protection, Newcastle and Gabriola islands will not be affected.
Part of the money will go toward two patrol boats and staffing to allow for around-the-clock response on the city’s waterfront. The authority will work with Nanaimo Fire Rescue to include firefighting retrofits. The port authority said $1.1 million has been invested in the boats.
David Mailloux, port authority spokesman, said Nanaimo’s harbour is dynamic, with a lot going on, and the vessels will allow for a “maximum blanket of safety and security.” It’s a 24/7 job, he said.
“The biggest backdrop of all of this is we are self-sufficient,” said Mailloux. “We don’t just get funding. We have to be self-sustaining. We have to find our own way to charge for services that we provide and direct them back to have benefits for the harbour … for the community and for central Vancouver Island.”
In addition to the vessels, staff and fire upgrades, the money will go toward supporting marine trade and developing and installing a Marine Domain Awareness System, which the authority said will provide real-time monitoring for the waters.
Deborah Marshall, spokeswoman from B.C. Ferries, said the fee is collected for the port authority and passengers will see the increase applied to their fare.
“There is a line item on the receipt, so the customer can see it is the port fee, not a B.C. Ferries fee,” Marshall said in an e-mail.
The increase is the first one in 10 years, according to the port authority.
For more information on the port authority, please visit www.npa.ca.