In keeping with their maintenance schedule, BC Ferries is set to replace one of the three plasticized cables on the Baynes Sound Connector, but some Denman Island residents are upset the ferry service isn’t using a flattened steel cable instead.
For years, residents have been finding both large and small pieces of plastic shedding from the cables of the ferry along the shores of Denman – even organizing clean-ups to assist.
This summer, BC Ferries employees along with CEO Mark Collins helped with cleaning up the plastic debris.
Earlier this year, Astrid Braunschmidt, manager of communication and media relations for BC Ferries, confirmed they are aware of the issue.
“BC Ferries has experienced issues with select areas of the plastic coating on the cables of the cable ferry delaminating. This is a manufacturer’s defect and should not be occurring,” she noted in an email to The Record.
On Wednesday, Braunschmidt noted the cable to be replaced will likely be the last one with plastic coating to be installed on the BSC.
She added BC Ferries has reviewed their options and has consulted with the community.
“With their support, we are developing a plan to replace all the plastic-coated cables with flattened strand cables. The flattened strand cables are made of steel and do not have a plastic coating.”
Due to the time required to source and order new cables, the first flattened strand cable is expected to be installed late summer 2020; however, she said they hope to accelerate the schedule.
Braunschmidt explained the installation of the new cables will be scheduled to take place during non-operational hours and should not affect sailing schedules.
“We continue to monitor the performance of the plasticized cables and will move as quickly as we can to change them out.”
For Denman Island residents, the replacement timeframe is not acceptable.
“It’s simple, [BC Ferries] have had plenty of time to order another cable,” said resident Vali Majd in a statement. “Will Mr. Collins and his crew be back in six months to pick up more plastic, or can we consider that was just photo opportunity?”
Majd suggested the savings from the cable ferry could be reinvested by the corporation into a greener cable.
“While many Denman Islanders would prefer to return to the old ferry … we are stuck with this thing now. Given all the supposed savings this ferry brings, the least BC Ferries could do is invest some of that money into a different kind of cable.”
The $15-million, 78.5-metre cable ferry began service late January 2016 with ‘soft sailings’ and regular sailings in February of that year. It is capable of carrying 50 vehicles and 150 passengers, and with a crossing of about 1,900 metres, it is believed to be the longest cable ferry in the world.
The Baynes Sound Connector faced opposition in recent years from residents of Denman and Hornby islands, concerned about safety and reliability.