Concerned islander ‘pirates’ planning to board ferry Friday

A gang of pirates will stage a Friday afternoon 'takeover' of the Quinitsa that runs between Buckley Bay and Denman Island.

A gang of pirates will stage a Friday afternoon ‘takeover’ of the Quinitsa that runs between Buckley Bay and Denman Island.

The ‘pirates’ intend to protest BC Ferries’ proposal to replace the vessel with a cable ferry.

While the occupation is intended to be fun, organizers say the threat to Denman and Hornby islands is serious.

“Denman and Hornby Islands contribute so much to the whole province, and we rely on the ferry for our economy, our health, our education, and our connection to the wider world,” organizers said in a statement. “With the cable ferry we anticipate an erosion of ferry service that could suck the vitality out of these islands.”

Islanders are concerned about the proposed 2.2-kilometre length, which would more than double the world’s longest cable route, as well as possible job losses, safety and the potential for privatization if BC Ferries finds an alternate service provider. They are also angry about the lack of public consultation.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said the cable ferry is not a foregone conclusion.

“We’re going through the process right now and we will be making a decision by September of next year,” she said.

The corporation has issued a request for expressions of interest, which closes Tuesday. It will then evaluate proposals to determine if it will proceed to the request for proposal stage.

As for Friday’s protest, Marshall said, “We certainly respect their right to free speech.

“If they want to voice their concerns they’re certainly more than welcome to do that.”

Along with the pirate action, Denman and Hornby residents have gathered at meetings, and organized a letter-writing campaign and a petition.

Friday’s schedule is as follows:

• 2:30 p.m. — Board the Boat at the Denman West ferry terminal;

• 3 to 3:50 p.m. — Rally at Buckley Bay with music, speeches and humour;

• 4 p.m. — Board the Boat back to Denman.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com