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More than just a place for ferry marshalling

The revitalization of Snug Cove has been on many council agendas and the issue of parking requirements in the area was brought up by mayor Adelaar at the first meeting of the new council.

The revitalization of Snug Cove has been on many council agendas and the issue of parking requirements in the area was brought up by mayor Adelaar at the first meeting of the new council. Will this council move ahead with the recommendations that came out of the Snug Cove Design Concepts and Transportation Plan created in 2011 by architect James Tuer?

Or will the new councillors want to start over?

Rondy Dike is the owner and operator of the Union Steamship Company Marina. He thinks it is time to take some steps toward revitalizing the cove. "Frustration has built up," he said. "I moved here about 1985 and I've seen the ferry consume more of the cove. I've seen the traffic consume more of the cove. I've seen places burn down and not been rebuilt because they don't have parking. The bakery is the best example. The owners were eager to rebuild but our current zoning requires them to come up with parking that would equal a full level of the building."

Dike has followed the planning process that had been initiated by the last council. "It isn't anything new, we've been working on many different plans," he said. "But no matter what you do, you have to consider the ferry. That's Snug Cove's elephant in the room."

Dike thinks that the ferry traffic restricts growth in the cove and that the fact that marshalling runs through the cove limits growth of ferry traffic. "As long as loading and offloading is done through Snug Cove, you can't put in a bigger boat or have multiple boats," he said. "Right now, commuters have to wait in line half hour ahead of time and the overloads have grown worse."

"The challenge is to load and offload the ferry quickly," Dike said. "I think we'll never be able to do that if we leave the access on the main street. There are too many diversions. People pull in to park. Pedestrians cross the street."

In Dike's opinion, a loop road is the only way to remove the bulk of the traffic from the village. He said, "If the traffic is moved to another area, then it would free up the cove for parking." To provide commuter parking, Dike suggests the area behind the library. He said, "Commuter parking needs to be close by."

Dike said, "The development in the cove comes down to the parking requirements. You can't blame the developers or the owners. I think the municipality hasn't been realistic. Council has been trying to curtail growth instead of solving problems."

"I'm probably the only one not affected by the ferry and the parking. I have the big lot by the marina and the majority of my customers don't arrive by ferry," Dike said. Most of his customers are boaters and his marina, a desirable place for moorage year-round, is almost always booked at capacity. He said, "The difference between boaters and tourists is that the boaters don't have cars. The tourists who come in cars will stop and look. Then they get back into their cars and drive away. The boaters will come off the boat, look at the shops and have something to eat or drink. They stay the night and on the next day, the wife might say, 'I think I might go back and get that sweater.'"

Boaters are locked into a walking area so it is essential to have a walkable village, says Dike. He likes the idea of infill building and points out that he has done something similar by creating spaces for shops and offices between the boardwalk and Government Road. Dike said, "The marina is a primary generator of tourism on the island." And it provides jobs for islanders. He said, "We currently have 12 people on staff. In the summer, we have 30 or 35 and that doesn't include the shops we provide the spaces for or our subcontractors like Underwater Angel. When we still had Doc Morgan's Pub, we had over 100 people working for us."

To Dike, the future of the cove hinges on the ferry traffic. "If the ferry problem is solved, the parking problem can be solved. Then the village will develop naturally on the south side." And if there still is desire and money to expand, he thinks there should be a discussion with Metro Vancouver about the property on the other side of Government Road.

Even though Dike believes that the revitalization of Snug Cove depends on decisions on ferry marshalling and transportation, he welcomes steps that can be taken immediately including changing the parking bylaws and encouraging infill buildings.