Here's what freedom means to one Queensborough resident

Residents petition city to extend Q to Q ferry service

A Queensborough pooch is enjoying her daily rides on the Q to Q ferry – and she’s not alone.

George Holm and his dog Zoe are regulars on the ferry, taking it from Queensborough to the Quay twice a day – or more. Launched May 19, the Q to Q pilot ferry service is set to run daily until Oct. 28.

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“This ferry means a lot to us,” Holm said. “This ferry means freedom. Absolute freedom.”

A petition being circulated in the community will ask the city to operate the Q to Q ferry year-round. City staff will update council on the Q to Q ferry service at its Oct. 1 meeting.

“We need a ferry service,” Holm said. “We are isolated here in Port Royal. We only have two streets out of here. We have to go across the Queensborough Bridge to get to the other side. There is often traffic delays or problems on both sides.”

Holm said the ferry has allowed Queensborough residents to access services at River Market and other parts of New Westminster. He knows residents who take the ferry to get to school, go to doctor’s appointments and movies and shop or dine out at businesses on the mainland.

“People go over in the evenings for dinner, which they didn’t do before. There is definitely a boost to business over there. I have seen restaurants over there now that I have never known were there and I have lived here for seven-and-a-half years,” Holm said. “I have had the most wonderful experiences going over.”

Each morning, Holm and Zoe ride the ferry from Queensborough to the Quay and back home again, taking in all the action on the river along the way.

“Zoe loves the boat ride,” Holm said. “On Saturday and Sunday they start at 9 o’clock not 7 o’clock. On those days she automatically turns to go down toward the dock when we pass by. This is the thing – to go with her – she greets everybody on the boat, sticks her head in the cabin and says hi to everybody, gets her scratches on the nose.”

In the afternoon, the duo take the ferry to the Quay, where they disembark and walk along the esplanade, stop for an ice cream or treat, and sit in a deck chair on the boardwalk and soak up the riverfront ambiance. Holm sometimes makes a third trip on the ferry, without Zoe, if he needs to pick up groceries or go out for dinner.

As a senior who doesn’t want to battle traffic on the road and search and pay for parking in downtown New Westminster, Holm said the ferry has contributed greatly to his quality of life.

“It has changed it completely,” he said. “It is wonderful.”

Holm said the ferry service is a hot topic of conversation in Queensborough, where people talk about their hopes that the city keeps the ferry running year-round.

“You get down there on weekends and so on and they are sailing with full loads,” he said. “They can only take 12 passengers at a time. I’ve stood on the dock and watched it leave when I was number 13 or 14. For me, that’s fine, I know that in 15 minutes it comes back again.”

Lisa Leblanc, the city’s transportation manager, said response to the service has been great, but the city will continue tracking the numbers until the end of the pilot.

“What we did differently this year than the demonstration last year is we have run a seven-day-a-week service because we wanted to see what the numbers would look like on the weekdays as well as the weekend. We are seeing consistent numbers during the week, during the commute periods but also midday, which is interesting,” she said. “People are using it. They are not enormous numbers but we are not an enormous community. What we are seeing is steady numbers in the hundreds of trips per day. It’s very cool. It’s definitely serving a need. We are hearing a lot from people living in Queensborough. People are really enjoying the ability to easily get downtown and they appear to be enjoying it consistently.”

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