Will Vancouver’s Ferries Ever Make a Comeback?

It’s been over 60 years since the last crossing between West Van’s Dundarave pier and the Vancouver Wharf, yet its memory and talk of its resurrection live on. In fact, it’s always been a bit of a surprise and disappointment to me that there aren’t more boat transportation options in a city with so many waterways. Is the demand just not there? Would operating costs be too high?

1920s, West Vancouver Ferry crossing the Burrard Inlet, Archives Item#: SGN 1123

Before the Lion’s Gate Bridge there was a ferry linking Vancouver’s Downtown with West Vancouver’s Ambleside neighbourhood. And at one time  ferries bound for Vancouver Island serviced both false creek and the downtown core. The rise of the car and the parallel construction of the city’s major inner-city bridges spelled the end of these busy, working ferries. Check out this great post by Miss 604 describing the evolution of West Vancouver’s storied ferry service which ended with the Lions Gate ribbon cutting in 1947.

As recently as 2010, West Van did a 6 month trial run of the old service to downtown which it then abruptly cancelled. I can’t seem to find out why, but it wasn’t due to lack of demand from Vancouverites as far as I can tell. I wonder how West Enders and Yaletowners would respond to a ferry service between their neighbourhoods and the North Shore. Pretty well, I would think, particularly when these are communities with below average per capita car ownership.

Am I just dreaming that inner city ferries could even survive given our dependence on four-wheeled traffic and  bridges? What would it take to bring some of these old ferry services back on line?

Masthead photo courtesy of rollanb