City should buy two new electric ferries for Toronto Islands — at a cost of $63 million, staff report says

Toronto is poised to spend $63 million on two new electric ferries as it begins to replace the aging fleet of diesel ships that have sailed the waters between the city and the Toronto Islands for 100 years.

A staff report going to the city council and the city’s licensing committee next Friday recommends replacing four existing ferries over the next 15 years, with the first two electric vehicles entering service in 2024.

The plan is to occasionally run a fifth, historic ferry – the Trillium.

The new electric vehicles will cost between $10 million and $13 million more than the hybrid models originally proposed, but will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 2,800 tons per year, the equivalent of removing 600 cars from the road each year. away.

“From a climate change perspective, the faster we reach net zero, the more we reduce the long-term costs associated with climate change,” Coun said. Joe Cressy, whose Spadina-Fort York Ward includes the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and the Toronto Islands.

“And those are real costs. Look how much we spend on flood mitigation.”

The new ferries are in line with the city’s Transform TO Net Zero strategy, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040. The initiative also aligns with the city’s goal of reducing 20 percent of its fleet to zero emissions by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030.

Cressy said the electric ferries will resemble the ferries in the existing fleet, which are loved by many for their charming, old-fashioned design. The decision to go for a traditional design was taken after extensive public consultations, he added.

According to the report, the city will save $1.1 million a year if its entire fleet of old ferries is replaced, a process expected to take 15 years.

The $63 million price tag includes the cost of building new coastal infrastructure to support the electric ferries, which will continue to dock at Jack Layton Terminal on the city side, carrying passengers to Ward’s Island, Center Island and Hanlan’s Point.

Cressy said no route changes are being considered as part of the revamp, but Waterfront Toronto is leading a review of its longer-term marine use strategy to include the port areas, which are being revitalized.

He said a corresponding increase in passenger fees is not expected as the money for the upgrade will come from debt, development costs and the Ferry Replacement Reserve Fund.

The current fleet carries more than 1.4 million passengers to the Toronto Islands annually. The new electric vehicles will be able to transport 30 percent more people.

The current ferry fleet includes the Ongiara, the William Inglis, the Sam McBride and the Thomas Rennie, and a historic vessel, the Trillium. They are between 50 and 100 years old.

“While all vessels are well maintained, they last significantly longer than the 20-year average lifespan for comparable saltwater ferries,” the report said.

Subject to actions by the government and the permit commission, the issue will be discussed by the city council on Feb. 2.

Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter who covers City Hall and municipal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF

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