Sidney is looking to Washington State Ferries to help promote the Sidney Ancortes ferry run.
Town council directed staff to negotiate $20,000 from Washington State Ferries for marketing and promotion as part of its lease and operating agreement, but WSF refused based on the fact that the lease agreement could only deal with matters directly related to the operation of the terminal.
In response to the request, WSF did note that it had supported a number of marketing initiatives including membership in the Saanich Peninsula Chamber, sponsorship of a tourism map and absorbing the cost of the refurbishment of the promotional billboard on Highway 17.
“It had come up as a suggestion through the admin and finance committee, to help promote the Sidney Anacortes run from our side, that we would seek some parking funds through our lease and operating agreement, through the rent,” said councillor Cliff McNeil Smith, chair of the administration and finance committee. “Negotiations have proceeded on a cost replacement basis and it’s not feasible at this time, but other avenues are being explored.”
According to Washington State Ferries, ridership on the Sidney Anacortes ferry run is up 10 per cent. “This continues the trend we saw in 2010,” said Sidney Mayor Larry Cross. “Which is great news.”
More than 98,000 cars and people traveled on the ferry through the end of August, with another three months left in the schedule. Last year, during the same period, the number was about 88,000.
“We expect this to be our best year ever,” said Chris Olson, contract agent of the Anacortes Ferry Terminal. “The exceptionally warm weather right into September has really encouraged people to take one of the most beautiful ferry trips in the world.”
“We are excited to see the increase in ridership,” said Lesley Nicholls of the Sidney Sister Cities Association. “All that hard work to promote the ferry and the unique qualities of Anacortes and Sidney are paying off. People on both sides of the border, I think, are delighted to find someplace new to explore that is so close to home.”
The Sister Cities Associations in Sidney and Anacortes have led the way to preserve the ferry link between Canada and the United States.
While the ferry run is doing well, the Canadian Border Services building at the ferry terminal is in poor condition and town council passed a motion to approve $10,000 in funding from the Ferry Terminal Capital Reserve fund to install a ductless slit air conditioning unit in the server room and to address other urgent upgrades.
The ferry run will continue to operate until Saturday, Dec. 31 and resume again Sunday, March 18, 2012. Information about fares and reservations can be found at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.