A ferry pulls up to the Skidegate Landing terminal. BC Ferries will open the first pay-parking spaces at the terminal lot starting on June 1. (File/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Pay parking coming to Skidegate Landing ferry terminal

BC Ferries set to open seven paid parking spaces inside the terminal lot, starting June 1.

BC Ferries will soon open seven pay-parking spots at the Skidegate Landing terminal.

Starting June 1, foot passengers taking a ferry to Prince Rupert or Alliford Bay will be able to park a vehicle in the terminal lot for up to a week.

The parking spots will be first-come, first-serve, and will cost $2 per day or $10 for the week-long maximum.

“It’s not a tremendous amount, but it will help take seven cars off the road,” says Darin Guenette, spokesperson for BC Ferries.

Built along a steep slope, the stretch of highway where people park east of the terminal has narrow shoulders on the ocean side, and a trucking terminal on the only large flat section across the street.

But BC Ferries found there is some space in the terminal’s fenced lot that drive-on passengers and companies with freight trailers don’t use.

“We’re confident we can free up the spaces on an ongoing, long-term basis,” said Guenette.

BC Ferries started looking at the issue last July, when the highway shoulder was temporarily closed for line-painting and some parking at the terminal was allowed.

“This is something we’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Queen Charlotte Mayor Greg Martin, adding that the stretch highway by the ferry terminal is the most serious traffic hazard in the village.

Martin said vehicles can legally park on the highway shoulder, but many wind up straddling into the driving lanes.

“I’ve seen a few busted mirrors from clipping,” he said. “We’re really fortunate that nobody’s been killed yet.”

Martin said Queen Charlotte is asking BC Ferries to free up more spaces than the seven announced so far.

Council had also hoped BC Ferries would offer the new parking spots for free, but Martin said they did manage a compromise — the original plan called for $10 a day.

Guenette said the small charge should encourage people not to park for too long, noting that BC Ferries will tow any vehicles left longer than a week, or any seen to be leaking fuel or oil.

In future, Martin said village councillors would like to request a No Parking zone for the highway by the terminal, but they recognize there needs to be another parking option first.

“We’re going to move slowly,” said Martin, noting that it took two years for drivers to get used to the No Parking zone along Oceanview Drive between the post office and Meegan’s Store, which allowed for safer walking and cycling.

“What we want to do is get our foot in the door, try to educate people – go easy, don’t start out with tickets and signs — and try to get people into the habit.”