– West Van passenger ferry service set to sail

North Shore Outlook

By Rebecca Aldous

After 62 years, West Vancouver will see a return of a passenger ferry at the 14th Street Pier at Ambleside Landing.

Starting next month, Coastal Link Ferries Limited will offer six weekday trips to downtown’s Bute Street Dock in Coal Harbour — 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Sail time will take between seven and eight minutes, 15 minutes when including embarking and disembarking, said Ihab Shaker, owner of the 67-passenger ferry that already runs between Bowen Island and Coal Harbour.

A one-way ticket will cost $5 and $9 for a return trip, however for the first month a dollar will be shaved off the one-way and two off the return trip.

“We do have the capacity for bicycles,” Shaker told council Monday night. “The boat is built with the capacity for five.”

For the past 11 months, Shaker has run the service from Bowen Island. The first West Van sailing will be en route from the island and the 5 p.m. sailing will also carry passengers returning to the island. A different 35-passenger boat will be used for West Van’s 5:30 p.m. sailing, Shaker said.

Bowen Island’s service has seen small increases in use every month, Shaker said. Humans are creatures of habit and it takes time to change their transportation modes, Shaker said.

“I am not expecting a lot of people (using the West Van service) at the beginning,” Shaker said.

The six-month pilot project is a wonderful start to promoting alternative traffic, Coun. Bill Soprovich said. The district has already lured some people out of their cars with the development of the Spirit Trail, he added.

“Here is another avenue that I think is very exciting,” he said.

TransLink should kick in some money to subsidize fares, Coun. Michael Smith said. This year the district is handing the transit service close to $9 million, with little to show for it, Smith added. Smith’s motion to send a letter to TransLink with such a request was approved by council.

No additional parking will be added as a result of the new ferry service, the district’s manager of corporate initiatives Mark Chan said. The district is hoping people will walk, bike or be dropped off at the ferry. For those who do bring their vehicles, there is no time limit for parking within Ambleside Park, he noted.

Revitalizing Ambleside

While the ferry is a start, West Van should consider extending 14th Street Pier to welcome day traffic, Coun. Michael Smith said. Many boaters would use the dock and with them comes cash as they stop for a bite to eat, he added. Extending the pier would also ensure the ferry service would not have issues with low tides, Smith said.

In the meantime, along with the ferry, Ambleside Landing is also gaining a Fish and Chip concession.

The concession could help bring life to the area, Coun. Michael Evison said.

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