Klemtu Ferry Terminal a Winning Collaboration

Kitasoo/Xai-xais Nation representatives welcomed the Northern Expedition, on the terminal’s opening day, Aug. 12, 2011.

First Nations art meets function in a ferry terminal that was a project managed by the ministry and chosen as a double winner at the Northern Builders Awards around 2012.

Eagles soar over the new building at Klemtu

The Klemtu Ferry Terminal reflects the culture of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais people, who live in this remote village of about 400 residents on Swindle Island. The cedar-clad building was designed by Acton Ostry Architects Inc., developed by SNC-Lavalin and built by Bear Creek Contracting. It resembles a traditional long house and is rich with First Nations symbols, including crests and a salmon weather vane. A large welcoming figure, carved by famed Aboriginal artist Tom Hunt oversees safe passage for passengers and ships, and a canoe mounted over the terminal’s gateway tells the story of Klemtu’s creation. Nearby, a round wood symbol with a white bear represents Spirit Bear Lodge, and the village’s location in the Great Bear Rainforest.

These striking features, developed in consultation with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, earned the terminal a Northern Builders Awards prize in the Community Institutional category, plus the Judge’s Choice Award for best overall winner. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Northern BC, the Commercial Council of the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board and the B.C. Construction Association North held the event in April to recognize outstanding buildings completed over the last two years.

The new Klemtu ferry terminal was constructed two kilometres north of the old ferry terminal, as the berth provided the depth and orientation needed for BC Ferries’ Northern Expedition. In addition to the award-winning terminal building, a vehicle and passenger ramp, and vehicle compound were constructed, and road improvements were made to the site.

Salmon and herring artwork on lock block walls

As Klemtu is accessible only by sea and air, all construction materials and equipment had to be barged into the community. Asphalt for the new road was heated and mixed at a plant in Kitimat. A special additive was put in to help with the asphalt’s placement and compacting, because the material would cool, by the time it arrived in Klemtu up to a day later.

The new terminal is a major benefit to Klemtu community members who now travel more easily for health care, education and employment. It’s simpler to move goods and services too – which opens up economic opportunities for Klemtu residents. Tourists who pull into the terminal on their scenic sailing from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, will no doubt, be awed by the beauty of the facility and the setting.

Announced in Dec 2009, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure was the lead agency in managing the delivery of the new terminal, which was officially opened on August 12, 2011.  Check out more photos of the facility and its opening day on Flickr.

This unique facility is a winner for everyone, and well worth celebrating.

Page 1 of 14 comments on “Klemtu Ferry Terminal a Winning Collaboration”

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  1. Having lived in Klemtu, where the ferry comes in every two weeks in the summer and monthly for the rest of the year and only a handful of cars goes on to or comes off of the ferry leaves me questioning this terrible wastes of funds.

    • There were challenges with vessels getting in and out of the old terminal, particularly in difficult weather. The terminal at the new location provides safer and more reliable service to residents and travellers alike. In addition, it’s easier to move goods on and off the ferry, which opens up economic opportunities. The ferry now stops at Klemtu twice a week in the summer and once a week the rest of the year providing residents with improved access to education, health care and employment.

  2. Hello;

    Now that the ferry terminal is located 2+ kilometers outside the community of Klemtu, have or will any services be put in place so visitors arriving by ferry and travelling on foot can visit and contribute to the tourism economy of Klemtu?

    Klemtu visitor info service advises that there is no service that can be pre arranged to bring visitors from or to the ferry terminal into the community. As a person who is planning a kayak trip from Klemtu, it feels like we would arrive by BC Ferry with gear and kayaks but there is no reasonable means to reach a safe launching site or enjoy the community of Klemtu before beginning the kayak trip.

    The previous ferry terminal in Klemtu provided much more convenient options to visit Klemtu when arriving by BC Ferry.



    • Hi Ken,
      The location of the new berth was chosen because it provides the depth and orientation needed for BC Ferries’ Northern Expedition – it’s the closest site to the community that is technically feasible for the vessel.
      The community and/or place of accommodation would be best suited to offer shuttle services. The Spirit Bear Lodge (www.spiritbear.com) is the primary (and perhaps only) tourist accommodation available in town. Have you looked into whether guests can arrange for pick-up at the ferry?
      Sorry for the inconvenience. We’ve passed your dilemma on to the project team.

  3. Something like this would be great in Victoria, our capital city, where we welcome people from all over the world to Canada and BC.

  4. In light of the recent “review” into the costs involved in operating coastal ferries I am wondering who financed this and what the total amount spent was?

    • Hi again Coleeen. We just wanted to confirm with you that the Klemtu terminal funding was provided jointly by the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada’s Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. The total project cost was $17.4 million.