Bowen Queen back serving Gabriola, starting in October

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 2 2017

This coming fall, the Bowen Queen will be returning to the Gabriola route, as the Quinsam heads in for some dry dock maintenance work.

Oct. 25 to Dec. 15 is the scheduled time for the Bowen Queen to be serving Gabriola.

This was the news from BC Ferries at the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting this past week.

As islanders will no doubt remember, the Bowen Queen has a capacity similar to the Quinsam’s, but only the centre lane is commercial height.

The refit on the Quinsam will focus on the engine and drive systems. A baby-change table is going to be installed in the accessible washroom.

Prior to then, the #4 Lounge will be designated a ‘fido-friendly’ lounge, where passengers will be able to sit with their dogs. 

Signage will be going up to identify which lounge is fido-friendly.

In other route news, BC Ferries staff said while there is still a plan in place to temporarily shut down the Descanso Bay terminal while the floating structure is replaced, that project has been pushed to 2021 to coincide with the Nanaimo Harbour terminal getting the same treatment.

According to BC Ferries staff, Gabriola could be without regular ferry service for up to two weeks while the terminal work is done.

On other islands during projects such as this, there has been barge service provided for commercial vehicle traffic and water taxi service for passengers.

Mark Collins, incoming BC Ferries President, said that when BC Ferries shut down the Hornby Island route, the overall reaction was positive from the community, mostly due to the public consultations leading up to the shutdown.

“The community treated it like a holiday, saying they were an island again.”

Discussion moved to the Quinsam’s eventual replacementå-nett.

Collins said the Quinsam will eventually be replaced with what BC Ferries is calling the Shuttle 100 class.

Of similar open deck style to the Quinsam and Skeena Queen, the Shuttles are expected to begin service in 2021, perhaps 2022, replacing the Quinsam sometime around 2029 with a vehicle capacity of 100, compared to the Quinsam’s 70.