Denman residents demand answers about cable ferry

DENMAN ISLAND — BC Ferries representatives faced around 85 people Thursday concerned about the cable ferry project.

AROUND 85 PEOPLE gathered at the Denman Island Seniors' Hall on Thursday night to express their opinions about the future cable ferry connecting Buckley Bay to Denman Island.

AROUND 85 PEOPLE gathered at the Denman Island Seniors' Hall on Thursday night to express their opinions about the future cable ferry connecting Buckley Bay to Denman Island.

DENMAN ISLAND — With concerns of safety, job loss and fare prices at the forefront, BC Ferries representatives faced a crowd of around 85 people Thursday night on Denman Island about the future cable ferry project.

Mark Wilson, vice-president of engineering for the corporation, offered a 15-minute presentation to residents prior to opening the floor to questions at the Denman Island Seniors’ Hall.

One of the key concerns residents had is they felt their views were not heard, said Wilson.

“I think we did hear from you,” he noted, and added a list of key concerns including safety, an alternate service provider, operational availability and the input on fares.

BC Ferries has been studying feasibility of a cable ferry on the route between Denman Island West and Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island for four years, and the company says users can expect a cable ferry to replace the traditional vessel by fall of 2014, in an announcement last Friday.

Wilson said the cable ferry has been tested significantly with tank models, will operate with the same speed as the current ferry, but have a better operational availability — 99.96 per cent, or the possibility of a sailing cancellation around five times a year, out of 12,000 scheduled sailings.

He added ferry refits will be significantly less, with a schedule of one in 10 years, compared to the current one in four years, and the ferry will be home-ported at Denman Island.

Wilson explained in terms of crew, he acknowledged the size will be less then the current crew, but added “cable ferries generally operated with a crew of one or two. We will certainly crew it with three.”

Transport Canada does have the final say for crew size, noted Wilson, but he said he will go above the minimum.

“Three is my minimum, but if Transport Canada says I have to do more, then I’ll do more.”

Wilson said the cable will allow a significant reduction of capitol spending and operating costs, which will provide an expected savings of $80 million over 40 years.

One resident raised a concern as a cable ferry has never operated in the area, he questioned how the ferry might go off-course to aid other vessels or work with assisting the coast guard in emergencies.

“I understand your concerns, but it’s not the mandate of BC Ferries,” replied Wilson. “The things that you’re asking for is outside our mandate and come at additional costs.”

Another question concerned safety, particularly if another vessel crosses in the path of the cable ferry.

“The ferry will have the ability to stop within a ship length and can stop and reverse,” he explained.

Many residents were concerned about job loss, and the impact of the loss of three jobs within the small community.

“We’re working closely with the crew and working with the union,” said Wilson. “We want to minimize the impact and look at options; we want to try and accommodate the people who live on the Island.”

Another resident quested Wilson’s answer, asking how BC Ferries can justify the crew reduction.

“Why are we being made guinea pigs? You’re asking us to put our trust in a boat. Our lives are more than three cables,” he stated.

Wilson said the cable ferry is “not experimental technology.”

“The level of analysis conducted on this cable ferry is far better than any other cable systems in the world,” he added.

When questioned about the lack of government representation at community meetings, Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs confirmed there will be government representation at the public consultation meeting scheduled for Dec. 8.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The platanthera dilatata is the fragrant white bog orchid whose perfume on a hot August day is one of the unforgettable delights of a summer hike in Strathcona Park. Photo supplied
Strathcona Wilderness Institute AGM upcoming

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute (SWI) will hold its 2021 annual general meeting… Continue reading

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Cumberland council is backing the business association again. File photo
Cumberland backs homeless veteran count

Briefs: Council continues support for business association

Courtenay Nissan’s Matthew Bourassa, Geoff Piper and Sean LaFleur join YANA’s Ashley Smith, Kelly Rusk and Lisa Wilcox for the 4x4x48 event to raise funds. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Courtenay Nissan eats and runs for YANA

Dealership realized non-profit groups need new ways to raise funds during COVID

Rev. Sulin Milne at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Comox is part of those helping distribute food to those in need within the town. Photo by Jim Peacock
Comox church serving the community with food through COVID-19

“We knew there were so many people who were facing economic challenges …”

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Most Read