Gabriola Island Community Page

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Welcome to Gabriola Island's Community Page!

This page is a space for community members and those that travel on the route to receive updates and information about ferry service on their route, and to offer suggestions, comments and questions to the BC Ferries team.

The input you provide will help us determine the topics that are of most interest to your community so we can bring answers, information, and themes for dialogue when we're in your community next.

This page will also be a resource hub for community event information, route-specific updates, reports and community stories.

Check back or subscribe using the link on the right to be informed of new items added to the page!

Welcome to Gabriola Island's Community Page!

This page is a space for community members and those that travel on the route to receive updates and information about ferry service on their route, and to offer suggestions, comments and questions to the BC Ferries team.

The input you provide will help us determine the topics that are of most interest to your community so we can bring answers, information, and themes for dialogue when we're in your community next.

This page will also be a resource hub for community event information, route-specific updates, reports and community stories.

Check back or subscribe using the link on the right to be informed of new items added to the page!

  • Capital Planning Update March 2024

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    As an essential public service, it is our job to keep people moving safely and reliably. We review our capital plan regularly to ensure it’s helping us achieve those goals. Inevitably, that means some tough decisions as we must work within our budget.

    During this year’s annual review, we prioritized two main aspects of our capital investment plan:

    1. The work required to ensure the maintenance and continued reliability of our infrastructure
    2. The delivery of vessels to replace our aging fleet and meet the growing capacity demands of the communities we serve, and the replacement of berths required to support new vessel introductions.


    As a result, we have had to defer or adjust the scope of some of our previously planned projects to work within available funds. For more on project impacts for Gabriola Island, please read on.

    Although some adjustments have been made, our plans continue to include $356 million in capital investments this year, and approximately $2.2 billion over the next four years (Performance Term Six). We also plan to pursue additional funding opportunities that would allow us to re-evaluate capital expenditures before the end of the next performance term (March 31, 2028). We will keep you updated as we continue to re-evaluate.


    What does this mean for Gabriola and Nanaimo Harbour terminal?

    As we note above, we have prioritized the work required to ensure the maintenance and continued reliability of our infrastructure for Gabriola Island residents and travellers. As a result, uplands work at both Descanso Bay and Nanaimo Harbour terminals has been deferred for the foreseeable future.

    The Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island terminal projects will focus on improvements to the marine infrastructures at both terminals. This includes the addition of a lay-by berth at Nanaimo Harbour that will enhance the safety and efficiency of vessel docking, and reduce weather cancellations of the second vessel on this route.

    Work also continues for the introduction of the two new fully-electric Island Class vessels to the route in 2027.

    We have heard community concerns around safety at the terminals, and while no uplands work is planned for the terminals, we are committed to staying connected with our partners including Islands Trust, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, local transit and other stakeholders, to work on operational improvements for vehicle staging, lighting, traffic control and communication.

    Thank you for your understanding as we work to balance the work required to ensure the maintenance and continued reliability of our infrastructure.

  • Gabriola Shuttle Bus - Pilot Program

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    March 19 - June 19

    We're happy to announce that over the last month, we have been working with People for a Healthy Community to facilitate a shuttle bus. The pilot will help provide more accessible travel for residents while reducing vehicle congestion at our terminals and vessels.

    As an essential service, we are committed to reducing our GHG emissions while maintaining a safe, reliable and efficient ferry system for our passengers. Which is why we are excited to see more community projects that encourage travellers to go by bus and high-occupancy vehicles.

    For Gabriola Island, People for a Healthy Community has taken the lead to initiate the second community shuttle program in the Southern Gulf Islands, and we welcome other communities to reach out with similar projects to see how we can work together to connect people to the places they need to go.

    The shuttle will travel between Descanso Bay and Nanaimo Harbour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays depending on the needs of the ridership. You may notice the shuttle staged in the medical loading area at the terminals. If you have any questions on the program, please visit People for a Healthy Community website at https://www.phcgabriola.org/ for more details on eligibility and scheduling

  • Sailing cancellations to Support Berth Work: January 15-19, 2023

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    Gabriola Islanders can expect water taxi-only service on specific late night and early morning sailings January 15 – 19, 2024 to allow for overnight geotechnical work on the marine structures at the Descanso Bay (Gabriola Island) and Nanaimo Harbour terminals. This work is in support of future terminal development.

    We have carefully chosen days and times for this work based on historical data of when the fewest people are travelling to mitigate the impact on those who rely on ferry service for access to work, school, and medical appointments.

    As service will not be available for vehicles, complimentary water taxi only service will be provided for the following sailings:

    Date

    Departing Descanso Bay

    Departing Nanaimo Harbour

    Monday, January 15

    10:30 PM

    10:05 PM, 11:00 PM

    Tuesday, January 16

    5:15 AM, 10:30 PM

    10:05 PM, 11:00 PM

    Wednesday, January 17

    5:15 AM


    Thursday, January 18

    9:40 PM 10:30 PM

    10:05 PM, 11:00 PM

    Friday, January 19

    5:15 AM

    5:45 AM


    Water taxis (view water taxi locations here) will run at the regularly scheduled sailing times, and will provide service as long as needed to help ensure you get to your destination. If you choose to leave your vehicle in Nanaimo overnight, reimbursement can be claimed through Customer Care: https://www.bcferries.com/contact-us/helping-you-during-a-service-disruption.

    Night Work will take place at the Descanso Bay terminal on January 12, 15-17, and 19, and at Nanaimo Harbour on January 18.

    If you live near the terminals, there’s a chance of increased noise levels between the hours of 9:00pm and 6:00am. Our construction contractors will do everything possible to mitigate noise impacts for our neighbours during this period.

    Despite our best efforts, we recognize customers may still be impacted when travelling on this route, and we thank the community in advance for your patience as we complete this crucial work.

    For up-to-date sailing and departure information, visit bcferries.com or follow @BCFerries on X.

  • Charting the Course: A Vision for Coastal Ferries

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    Now is the time to shape the vision of the coastal ferry service in BC.

    Transportation, transit and ferry systems around the world are under pressure resulting from the pandemic, population growth, climate change, inflation and other factors. BC’s coastal ferry system is no exception, and BC Ferries is responding with actions to address current operational issues. We are also embarking on a long-term transformative journey to reshape our coastal ferry services in response to the evolving needs of the communities we serve.

    We invite you to participate in Charting the Course, an initiative that aims to define what is needed to keep people, goods, and services in coastal communities connected and moving through to 2050 and beyond.

    Hearing from you is an important part of this initiative to help us build a more sustainable and resilient ferry system. The first phase of engagement is open until November 28. Learn more and participate here: https://www.bcferriesprojects.ca/bc-ferries-charting-the-course

  • Nanaimo Harbour Terminal Project

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    Nanaimo Harbour Terminal: Update October 30

    Tresetle and Pontoon Life Extension Project

    September 27 - November 6, 2023

    As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure the safe operation of our terminal facilities, BC Ferries will be carrying out necessary marine work activities to extend the life of the pontoon and timber trestles at the Nanaimo Harbour Ferry Terminal.

    The First phase of the project will begin on Wednesday, September 27, and take place during the day. This will include work on the timer trestle with no impact to operations expected.

    Beginning October 10 - November 6, the remainder of the work will be completed. To mitigate traffic disruptions for our customers, during this time, construction activities will take place overnight until November 3 between the hours of 5:00 pm and 4:00 am. We anticipate that residents in the nearby vicinity may experience an increase in noise levels due to crane operations and pile driving.l Construction crews will make every effort to minimize noise as much as possible.

    We would like to thank our customers and neighbours for their patience and understanding as we complete this work.

    For more information or traffic updates, follow our @BCFerries X Account or visit bcferries.com


  • Route update: June 13 service disruptions

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    On June 13, due to adverse weather conditions, the Island Gwawis cancelled all afternoon sailings starting at 12:55pm between Nanaimo Harbour and Descanso Bay on Gabriola Island. Subsequently, the Island Kwigwis sailed on a reduced license. This combination of factors resulted in overloads, causing frustration for customers and leading to questions around what happened to the sailings that day. In this update, we would like to provide clarity about these events and what we will be doing moving forward.

    What happened

    The Island Gwawis ties up each day at the Visiting Vessel Pier in Nanaimo. The conditions for docking at this pier present more challenges in adverse weather than docking at the BC Ferries’ terminal. With winds predicted to be too high to safely dock the vessel later that day, the decision was made to cancel the afternoon sailings for the Gwawis in the interest of safety.

    Because the Island Kwigwis docks at the BC Ferries terminal, it continued to sail that day. However due to our inability to fully staff the vessel to Transport Canadas regulation levels, the vessel’s license was reduced. This led to lower passenger capacity on the Kwigwis and with just one ship in operation, some passengers experienced longer waits at the terminal. Crew were found and the Kwigwis sailed at full capacity for the 4:35pm sailing onward.

    What about other docks near by

    During the initial project for the alternate dock, all locations were looked into and considered. These included Departure Bay and the Cruise Ship dock. After all options were explored, it was concluded the Visiting Pier was the most suitable for the vessel and the needs of the route. When service disruptions do happen our teams will look at all available options. In making these decisions, several factors including crew and berth availability are considered.

    What we are doing

    The central question we have heard is, could the crew from the Gwawis have been reassigned to the Kwigwis so it could sail at full capacity between 12:55pm and 4:35pm?

    The simple answer is yes. However, on this day that reassignment did not happen. We have conducted a review with our staff and have addressed this oversight so that it will not happen again. We recognize the major disruption this caused to all those travelling on this day and we apologize for the frustration customers experienced. Our teams continue to work on improving our policies and procedures for two-ship service on this route, to avoid or mitigate disruptions moving forward. We thank everyone for their patience and understanding.

  • National Indigenous Peoples Day

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    Today marks National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day we celebrate and recognize the diverse cultures, traditions and immeasurable contributions of First Nations, Inuit, & Métis across Canada. Indigenous Peoples are the traditional stewards of the rivers, lakes, land & sea where we are privileged to live and work.

    #NIPD2023 serves as an opportunity to learn and deepen our understanding of the Indigenous cultures throughout Canada.


    • Learn more about Indigenous Peoples land, languages, history and culture: https://maps.fpcc.ca/
    • The First Peoples’ map highlights BC's Indigenous language regions, artists & artworks, place names & landmarks: https://native-land.ca/
    • Native Land is an app that allows users to map Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages: https://ow.ly/1pUt50OPX10
    • Use the @BCGovNews map to find events happening in your community celebrating National Indigenous History Month: https://ow.ly/fif850OPX4l
    • Learn more about the history, cultures, and experiences of Indigenous Peoples in Canada: https://ow.ly/mJ4250OPX91


    Learn about National Indigenous People’s Day and how you can participate in celebrating their culture and heritage.

    #BCFerries remains committed to fostering meaningful relationships with the Indigenous communities we serve. We recognize the importance of collaboration and partnership as we work toward a future of mutual respect, reconciliation and inclusivity.

  • BC Ferries App Now Available!

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    The new BC Ferries app is now available for download to your mobile device in the App Store and Google Play Store. Designed with convenience and personalization in mind, the app makes it easier than ever to check schedules and current conditions, book sailings and manage your trips.

    New features and enhancements include:

    • Travel Preferences: Allows customers to save travel details for quick access to schedules and current conditions and make faster bookings on frequently travelled routes.
    • Current Conditions: Route sailing status and estimated deck space will be easier to view with the updated app layout.
    • Making and Managing Bookings: New designs and personalized travel preferences will enable easier bookings. Customers can quickly jump to the next available sailing with the new Express book feature, and manage existing bookings on-the-go.
    • Schedules: Enhanced features on daily and seasonal schedules and the introduction of travel preferences will make it easier to trip plan.
    • Alerts: Gives customers the option to receive timely push- notifications for service notices and upcoming sailing reminders on their device.
    • Seamless check-in: Customers can find their upcoming trips on their app dashboard to access the booking barcode for seamless check-in at the terminal.

    This is BC Ferries first release and the company already has plans for new features and functionality. The app will also continue to evolve based on feedback from customers and evolving digital trends.

    More information about the mobile app, including how to and helpful tips, is available online at https://www.bcferries.com/app

  • Update on Performance Term 6: Revised 4-Year Plan to Commissioner

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    Since filing in September 2022, an elevated risk of recession, coupled with higher inflation and cost pressures across BC Ferries operations, has forced a recalculation of estimates and plans contained in the company’s Performance Term Six Submission to the independent BC Ferries Commissioner.

    Revisions to the plan are in three key areas:

    • Traffic Outlook – BC Ferries’ traffic outlook has been updated to reflect the growing certainty of a mild recession occurring during Fiscal 2024;
    • Capital Program and Maintenance – continued inflation and higher maintenance costs associated with maintaining an ageing fleet have been factored into an updated schedule and 12-year capital plan.
    • Labour and Talent Development – a more comprehensive view of actions necessary to secure required crew levels in response to the growing gap of both exempt and bargaining unit wages relative to the marketplace.

    The revised plan also acknowledges the recent commitment of $500 million in new funding from the Province to support the lowering of fare increases for people who rely upon the coastal ferry service. While funding terms are not finalized, the Commissioner will determine the impact on BCF’s revised four-year plan, and will make a final determination on the Performance Term Six price caps by September 30, 2023. The plan is now posted on the Commissioner’s website bcferrycommission.ca for public feedback.

    Click here to view the full media release.

  • More ships - More service: Planning for the future with Performance Term 6 (2024 - 2028)

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    What is a Performance Term?

    A performance term is a review of BC Ferries services and fees by the BC Ferries Commissioner. Performance Term reviews happen every four years, and the current term (Performance Term 5) will end on March 31, 2024.

    BC Ferries has just submitted its proposal for Performance Term 6. This submission sets out our proposed service plans, including capacity increases, replacing aging vessels and infrastructure, and addressing service challenges over the next four years (April 1, 2024 to March 31, 2028). The submission also outlines our financial information and what we believe will be required in order to provide the proposed service changes. This information assists the Commissioner in setting a price cap, the maximum allowable increase to fares for the next performance term.

    You’re invited to provide input on the Performance Term

    Community members are encouraged to provide their thoughts and feedback on our Performance Term 6 submission while it is under review by the Commissioner, in particular the service plan proposals. You can do that now by reading the submission and providing your feedback at: bcferrycommission.ca

    What’s in Performance Term 6 (April 1, 2024 – March 31, 2028)

    Modernization and replacement of vessels, terminals and IT systems are the centrepiece of BC Ferries’ Performance Term 6 submission, including:

    • Long Term Traffic Demand Outlook (fiscal years 2023 through 2034)

    • Capacity Review and Service Enhancement Strategies

    • Workforce planning strategies

    • Emission reduction strategies

    • Strategies for evolving with travel behaviour changes

    • Strategies for improving efficiency

    • Capital plans (2023 – 2034)

    Next Steps

    The BC Ferry Commissioner will announce a preliminary price cap on March 31, 2023 and will finalize it on September 30, 2023. Once the review process is complete, BC Ferries will proceed with more detailed design and planning for the actions contained in the approved proposal. We will engage with the communities we serve on putting these plans into action. Stay tuned to this page for more information.

Page last updated: 22 Mar 2024, 04:32 PM