Imagine a future where you live on the West Shore and commute to downtown Victoria using a commuter ferry and a gondola.
“It’s one of those ideas that you start thinking about and you just can’t stop talking about it,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin of his vision. “I don’t believe in using our waterfront as a parking lot, so that’s where a gondola comes in.”
Martin is proposing that a 10-acre, city-owned lot, just behind the site for the new Royal BC Museum Collections gallery along Metchosin Road, be turned into a parking lot and gondola system.
Commuters could park their vehicles and ride the gondola about a kilometre into the Royal Beach area, which Martin has flagged to waterfront developers as as ideal location for a commuter ferry to the downtown core.
He said council hasn’t determined the potential for the 10-acre piece of land yet. There is no funding in place for a gondola project and there has been no discussion of it at council.
The mayor expects to see hundreds of new commuters due to the Royal BC Museum extension, a $9.5-million elementary school project along Latoria Boulevard and a projected boom of retail and residential buildings on the Royal Beach waterfront.
In October 2020, the province’s South Island Transportation Strategy pushed the potential for a ferry into long-term priority instead of short-term projects such as electric vehicle charging stations.
Martin pointed out that the next step in the plan is confirming support from the province.
To get there, the city would need a feasibility study, which is estimated to cost around $1 million. It would determine price tags for the provincial government to determine if it’s something worth investing in.
If the ferry idea is rejected a gondola conversation would be moot.
Martin said he’s pushing the idea early so he doesn’t get the same results as previous gondola ideas pitched across the region.
In 2013, the idea to carry cruise ship passengers from Ogden Point to Victoria Harbour was shot down after residents aired concerns of privacy loss, property devaluation and loss of views and parkland. Martin wants to build the gondola and ferry before the entirety of Royal Beach is built, so residents would already be aware that a gondola would be set in place.
Similarly, the 2016 idea for a gondola to connect Langford’s Bear Mountain to Mt. Finlayson fizzled after the Westin Bear Mountain hotel was sold in July 2019.
Martin said Seacliff Properties, Royal Beach’s developers, have voiced support for a ferry, but have yet to be included in the conversation over a gondola.
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