Snuneymuxw First Nation has big plans for Newcastle Island ferry

Mon. Mar. 6/17

Taking the Newcastle Island ferry will soon be easier and cheaper.

Snuneymuxw First Nation (SFN) has purchased a 48-passenger ferry to operate the service between Nanaimo and Newcastle Island beginning April 1, according to SFN councillor Erralyn Thomas.

She told NanaimoNewsNOW it will now cost $5 return, down from $9.

“It was almost $50 for a family of four to get over there, now we have addressed that significant concern and barrier,” she said.

Thomas said they plan to run the ferry from April through October at the very least, and hope to provide limited access year-round, if demand is warranted. In her eyes, SFN taking over ferry service is a catalyst for further economic and cultural opportunities for Snuneymuxw.

“On a bigger note, it allows us to create jobs for our community and increase the per capita household income and strengthen the Snuneymuxw economy.”

Mayor Bill McKay said he's excited about the initiative, which he said will promote greater use of the island. He said Snuneymuxw has asked for financial assistance for the service, a request which McKay supports.

“I very much appreciate that they are coming to us to reactivate the City's participation in the promotion of Newcastle Island,” he said.

Newcastle Island ferry service was disrupted in June 2015 when a service agreement could not be reached between a previous operator and SFN. Thomas said the new schedule will have service as frequent as every half-hour in the peak summer period. She said the vessel will run in a triangular route between the Waterfront Suites and Marina dock on Stewart Ave., Maffeo Sutton Park and Newcastle.