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Passenger ferry servicing Downtown to Bowen & Sunshine Coast eyes 2026 launch date

Goal is for sailings to be zero-emissions

Greenline Ferries is continuing its push to bring passenger-only ferry service from downtown Vancouver to Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast.

The company first announced their intentions for vehicle-free sailings at the end of 2022. Runs from Vancouver to Bowen would take approximately 45 minutes, and 75 minutes to Gibsons. The battery-powered vessels would hold around 150 passengers and be based out of a hub station near the downtown Waterfront Station and Canada Line.

While the initial presentation focused more on the vision of the project, a June 10 follow-up report to council by Greenline founder and CEO Callum Campbell included more details about how to make the ferry a reality. Chief among these was where the ferry would dock on Bowen.

Campbell explained that Seymour Bay was the preferred site for placement of the ‘charge barge’, a structure which serves as both a docking station for the ferry and a waiting area for passengers. The barge is then connected to shore via a gangway.

Initially viewed as a decision between Snug Cove and Seymour Bay, Campbell said the latter provides several travel advantages. These included creating a secondary access point to the island, and would avoid increasing – and could in fact decrease – traffic congestion in the Cove. The CEO added he’s had constructive conversations with Bowen Island Properties, who are in the midst of development projects in the area, and that the two companies see each other as assets.

The ferry’s design, originally based on the MS Medstraum out of Norway, is now modelled after a vessel from marine design company BMT. Campbell said the updated model is built more specifically to endure Howe Sound conditions, including wind, waves, and debris. Speeds would be approximately 23 knots.

In addition to its 150 passengers, the electric ferry is expected to hold around 20 bicycles and four wheelchairs. The daily schedule would include three round-trips between Bowen and Vancouver. The downtown station is not yet known, Campbell had hoped to secure use of TransLink’s SeaBus berths but after discussions with TransLink learned this wouldn’t be possible. He says Greenline is currently exploring three other locations near the Canada Line, which is a priority for the company.

Funding-wise Campbell says Greenline is 80 per cent of the way toward making the passenger ferry service a financial reality. An updated timeline would see orders for the ships placed this fall, followed by a 16-month construction period. Service could then begin in mid-2026.

Council were enthusiastic about the plan, though realized there was still much more work to be done. One of the biggest questions raised was the current lack of transit service to the Seymour Bay area and its distance from the town centre, both of which pose an issue for a passenger-only service. The Golf Course and Seymour Bay Beach are currently the major draws for visitors at the southeast bay.

Campbell says more consultation with the public, council, and several other invested parties, including TransLink and Bowen’s Transportation Committee, are planned in the coming months.