Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal redevelopment plans feel impact of COVID-19

BC Ferries has lost $130 million in expected revenues because of the lockdown and reduced sailings. All major capital projects are on hold.

Improvements to the aging Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal are in limbo as BC Ferries sorts out its post-pandemic future.

Although it would have taken several years to build on plans for a complete overhaul of the ferry terminal, that timeline has been extended because of the novel coronavirus.

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“We have put all major capital projects on hold due to the impact COVID has had on our financials,” says spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “We will revisit projects in the coming months.”

In August, BC Ferries said it had lost $130 million in expected revenues because of a huge drop in ridership as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and reduced sailings.

The Horseshoe Bay terminal redevelopment was an ambitious two-phase redevelopment with a preliminary projected cost of $250 million. It was part of a 12-year, $3.9-billion plan to upgrade ferry terminals and replace older vessels.

Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal phase one
The first phase of the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal upgrade focuses on enhancing the experience for foot passengers.

The current terminal is not only aging – some of the infrastructure was built in the 1960s — but it’s at operating at more capacity than it was designed for. It provides vital transportation routes to Bowen Island, the Sunshine Coast and Nanaimo. Even though there are three berths compared to the five berths at Tsawwassen, the Horseshoe Bay terminal has more sailings. It is the third largest ferry terminal in B.C.

The plan includes realigning the berths, a second exit road, an additional storey on the terminal building to accommodate a new control tower and administrative offices, enhanced technology capabilities, and new indoor waiting areas for foot passengers, as well as weather-protected outdoor areas.

Horseshoe Bay phase two
Phase 2 of the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal will see parking move underground as the green-roofed terminal expands into the current parking lot. image BC Ferries

The new terminal building, with its green roof, would take over the current space as well as the parking area. Parking would be moved below ground.

“We would like to transform the terminal into a hub that complements and enhances the community,” BC Ferries said in an overview of the process. “We envision creating a transportation hub for pedestrians, cyclists, transit, and vehicles and a community hub with commercial space, easy access to/from the village, and integration with the Horseshoe Bay local area plan.”

In 2018, BC Ferries asked the public to provide input on design concepts as part of Phase 4.

BC Ferries graphic
This graphic explores public input into the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal redevelopment. - BC Ferries

Martha Perkins is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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