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B.C. Ferries unveils proposals for major redesign of Swartz Bay terminal

A waterfront boardwalk is one of the ideas being proposed for the terminal redesign.

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A waterfront boardwalk is one of the ideas being proposed for the terminal redesign. . BC Ferries

A waterfront boardwalk and park, a covered market, even a pub could soon be part of the B.C. Ferries experience on Vancouver Island.

The ferry corporation is floating some new ideas for making one of its busiest hubs more enjoyable for its seven million passengers each year.

“We understand the importance of the Swartz Bay terminal to our customers and to our communities as well,” said B.C. Ferries Communications Manager Tessa Humphries.

READ MORE: BC Ferries resumes service after sailings cancelled by mechanical woes

The terminal needs to be upgraded so it can handle growing amounts of traffic more efficiently. Along with technical enhancements to the berths and loading ramps, several improvements to the amenities are also under consideration.

A new foot passenger waiting area, forecourt and concession building are among the proposed upgrades to the Swartz Bay terminal.
A new foot passenger waiting area, forecourt and concession building are among the proposed upgrades to the Swartz Bay terminal. BC Ferries
A new foot passenger waiting area, forecourt and concession building are among the proposed upgrades to the Swartz Bay terminal.
A new foot passenger waiting area, forecourt and concession building are among the proposed upgrades to the Swartz Bay terminal. BC Ferries
A new foot passenger waiting area, forecourt and concession building are among the proposed upgrades to the Swartz Bay terminal.
A new foot passenger waiting area, forecourt and concession building are among the proposed upgrades to the Swartz Bay terminal. BC Ferries

Humphries said more than 500 people took part in the consultation process.

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“There have been ideas around green spaces, ideas around different food vendors and more options,” she said.

Phase one was launched this past summer, with customers asked to give their vision for the terminal.

Phase two narrowed down those ideas, which included basketball courts, better wifi, and better cycling facilities.

WATCH: BC Ferries announces plans for new ships

BC Ferries announces plans for new ships
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A detailed plan is expected to be released by the end of the year.

“It’s still a draft, we still need to move into a detailed design process, in which we will go back out into the community and ask for more feedback, before we roll into construction,” said Humphries.

Construction isn’t expected to get underway until 2021. There is no budget for the project at this time, as it’s still in the early stages.

READ MORE: Premier Horgan ‘hopeful’ five new BC Ferries’ vessels will be built in British Columbia

Passengers at the terminal say the improvements are long overdue. But some also expressed concern, saying the money should be invested in the fleet itself.

“You know, reliability, it’s got to be almost one hundred percent,” said Bruce Allen. “They run them pretty hard and fast, and you’ve got to have a ‘plan-B’ and a back-up plan.”

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B.C. Ferries is in the midst of a twelve year $3-billion capital plan. The addition of five new vessels is on the books, but it will be a while yet before they’re on the water.

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