FAC to formally request BC Ferries restore weekend afternoon sailings year-round

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, October 31 2018

The Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) has been asked by BC Ferries to make a formal request if the FAC wants to see the weekend afternoon sailings restored year-round.

During the “off-season,” BC Ferries does not operate the 1:50 and 2:25 p.m. sailings on Saturdays or Sundays, except for on long weekends.

Heather O’Sullivan, FAC member, said the community impact is immediate when those sailings disappear on the weekends.

She referenced the data from September 2017 through to February 2018 saying the impact was clear.

“You can see the crowdings on either side of the gap going from Gabriola, and unacceptably crowded coming from the Nanaimo side.

“It would be a gesture of goodwill for this community - being as we can expect this to get worse.”

Jane Woods, FAC member, said that coming back from Nanaimo on the weekends, there is a lot of overloading.

“A lot of it is families, kids with soccer, they can’t get back in time. It’s very unpleasant.”

Darin Guenette, BC Ferries Manager for Communications, said it would mean the FAC putting in a “Significant Service Request” (SSR) - something the Gabriola FAC has done before when requesting the weekend sailings be restored for the spring and summer seasons.

Within the SSR, the committee can outline what is being requested over and above what the BC Ferries contract provides for.

Guenette said, “Then we look at operations, the crews, what this would take from us. We get you an answer within the 90 days, if not quicker.”

Peter Simpson, BC Ferries Director of Fleet Operational Strategy, said the change would have fuel and labour costs.

“There is no support from the Province for that. The SSR process has worked in the past, let’s use it again.”

Mark Wilson, BCF Vice President, Strategy & Community Engagement, said a key part of the SSR would be including the impact that having those sailings restored would have on families.

“Quantify that as best you can.”

He said at the same time the FAC is communicating that to BC Ferries, it should also be communicating the request to the provincial Transportation Ministry.

“There are ongoing talks with the Province, we are looking at Performance Term 5. This request is over and above the contract, BC Ferries wants to help where we can, but that message should go into the Province as well.”