Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal
The Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal is a 22.3 ha major transportation facility in Delta, British Columbia. It is located at the end of a 3 km (2 mi) man-made causeway off the mainland at Tsawwassen and is less than 500 m (550 yd) from the 49th parallel, Canada's border with the United States. The terminal is part of the BC Ferry system, as well as part of Highway 17A.
The search for a mainland ferry terminal in the late 1950s that would connect British Columbia's Lower Mainland with the Victoria area on Vancouver Island involved an extensive scouting of locations from Steveston to White Rock. Despite criticism of rough seas and bad weather, the favoured site soon became the area offshore from the Tsawwassen First Nation Reserve.
Construction of the terminal began in 1959, after provincial transportation Minister Phil Gaglardi, on divided engineering advice, selected the site. Construction of an artificial island began, and the causeway was built from the island back towards the mainland. This endeavour used an estimated 2.3 million cubic metres (3.0 million cubic yards) of boulder, rock, and gravel fill.
The isolated causeway location of the terminal, while criticized locally in its formative years, has allowed and continues to allow terminal expansion to cope with growing vehicle traffic.
In 2003, the Tsawwassen First Nation filed legal action in the BC Supreme Court over the destruction of the foreshore and other concerns caused by the impact of the terminal and the nearby Roberts Bank Superport.
Ferry facilities and connections
Currently there are five ferry berths at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. The terminal primarily serves routes travelling to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, north of Victoria, and the southern Gulf Islands, although a connection from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo called the "Mid-Island Express" was established in 1990, providing the shortest land connection between the border with the United States at Blaine and Northern Vancouver Island.
Ferries destined to, or originating from, the Gulf Islands and Swartz Bay and landing at Tsawwassen, must travel through approximately 8 km of US waters.
In the mid-1990s a major renovation and expansion of the terminal was undertaken.
- The Ships of British Columbia. Gary and Patricia Bannerman. 1985. Hancock House Publishers Ltd. p.54
- BC Ferries website - Milestones
- "Ferries, port face suit", Delta Optimist. December 11, 2003
- "Residents going APE over port expansion", Delta Optimist. June 26, 2005