03/19/2015 11:55 EDT | Updated 05/19/2015 05:59 EDT

BC Ferries Terminal Closures Proposed For Nanaimo, Salt Spring Island

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New BC Ferry Northern Expedition arrival in Nanaimo after delivery trip from Germany. March 6, 2009
BC Ferries should consider closing ferry terminals on Salt Spring Island and Nanaimo in order to keep fare increases under two per cent per year, according the independent B.C. Ferry Commissioner.

Yesterday Commissioner Gordon Macatee Macatee proposed limiting annual fare increases to 1.9 per cent a year for four years starting in 2016.

To do that, he wants the corporation to find more than $27 million in efficiencies by 2020. and he's wondering if Nanaimo and Salt Spring Island both need three ferry terminals each.

"We're simply asking them [the corporation] to continue to do their work so we can see what the options would look like," Macatee said, adding the idea would be to avoid costs.

Minister rejects proposal

But Transportation Minister Todd Stone said it's an idea that he's considered, and rejected.

"We have no intentions of closing either of the terminals in Nanaimo," Stone said. "That from our perspective, is not on the table."

Nanaimo has two terminals that provide service to West Vancouver and Tsawwassen, and one smaller terminal for service to Gabriola Island.

Brian Hollingshead, the chair of the Southern Gulf Islands ferry advisory committee, said the debate over terminal closures is not over.

 "It's a bit early in the program for anyone to say, 'No, no, that's not on the table,'" he said.

Hollingshead said an economic analysis will be done, but decisions about closing terminals won't likely not be made until the end of the new ferry service contract in 2020.

Salt Spring Island has three terminals that provide service to Tsawwassen, the southern Gulf Islands, Saanich and Crofton

Last fall when BC Ferries floated the idea of cancelling service between Nanaimo's Departure Bay terminal and West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay terminal as a cost-cutting measure, that idea was also quickly shot down by Stone.


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