A Ferry for Portland? It’s a Point of Conflict in City Council Budget Season

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty says the private sector should pay.

As part of his budget, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed spending $200,000 to explore creating a passenger ferry service between Vancouver and Portland as soon as 2022.

But that budget allocation is among the budget items that City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has questioned.

Hardesty has objected to Wheeler's proposals for major budget items, most notably policing, but also for smaller allocations—including the ferry.

Related: Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty Suggests Disbanding a Portland Police Team

"I say let's get private businesses that will benefit from a ferry to pay for the feasibility study," said Hardesty at a budget hearing on May 9.

The nonprofit Friends of Frog Ferry, which is backing the ferry service, is looking for $650,000 for feasibility studies this year, according to its website. The nonprofit has said it's soliciting both private and public funds for the studies.

Wheeler has publicly supported the project since November, but there was a question about how much money he'd put toward the project.

"The passenger ferry would provide an alternative transportation option to ease the traffic burden on freeways and roads, and could be enjoyed by commuters, visitors, elders, and people with disabilities," the mayor's budget states.

The ferry would provide passenger service on both the Columbia and Willamette rivers, creating an aquatic link between the Portland and Vancouver waterfronts.

The mayor has said his support for ferry service is not related to a possible baseball stadium on the river, but has said there could be a stop at a stadium.

Portland Diamond Project has an option with the Port of Portland to buy the Terminal 2 site, but there are questions about whether the group will move forward there.

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