10/22/2013 01:41 EDT | Updated 12/22/2013 05:12 EST

Nanaimo Foot Ferry Needs City Support


NANAIMO, B.C. - A company proposing the latest foot passenger ferry service between Nanaimo, B.C., and the Lower Mainland says investors and vessels are ready to set sail, but the plan could sink if the City of Nanaimo doesn't jump on board, too.

Island Ferry Services is floating a $63-million proposal to launch the route, possibly as early spring 2014, but staff in Nanaimo say they have identified several challenges that must be dealt with before any agreement can be considered.

IFS spokesman David Marshall says three main investors are lined up, but won't commit unless the city moves forward with a lease and a partnering agreement.

Marshall presented the proposal to council on Monday, saying IFS has been fine tuning its business plan for four years and is looking for a long-term waterfront lease in Nanaimo and forgiveness of $500,000 in annual revenue for the first five years to give the business a fighting chance.

In return, two catamarans would provide six round-trips daily between Vancouver and Nanaimo during the spring, summer and fall, and four trips during the winter, at a fare of around $30 per person.

Foot ferry ventures across Georgia Strait have a history of failure, with the last one, HarbourLynx, folding in 2006, and the almost immediate collapse of Coastal Link in 2008, after it tried to run a service between Vancouver, Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast. (CKAY)

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