Residents on Denman Island faced travel difficulties Wednesday (Sept. 30) as the Baynes Sound Connector ferry connecting the island to Vancouver Island had its sailings cancelled all day due to mechanical difficulty.
In an email, BC Ferries said the difficulty involved the hydraulic system, and a water taxi service shuttled between the Fanny Bay and Denman Island Government docks, which allowed people, pets and bicycles to be transported.
Tessa Humphries, manager of communication for BC Ferries said the hydraulic issue revolved around the pump, which needed to be replaced and flushed prior to the ship going back into service.
“This was not all completed until late last night, which is why the ship resumed service first thing this morning.”
A shuttle bus service was available to transport arriving customers from Fanny Bay to Courtenay with stops at the Buckley Bay terminal when needed.
The BSC was back in service for its first sailing at 6:40 a.m. from Denman Island on Oct. 1, but Denman residents said the damage of not having an operational ferry for a full day had already been done.
“People (were) still without their cars,” said Denman resident Rae Eckel. “There was a shuttle, but this is COVID. Who wants to be on a shuttle bus during COVID?”
Eckel was also concerned about residents who needed medical attention, and high school students on Denman who were unable to attend school in Courtenay.
“(Not having the ferry running) really impacts a lot of people. I feel sorry for people who have appointments, are working or have medical emergencies.”
Residents took to social media questioning why the Island Discovery ferry – which served the Texada Island-Powell River route – and sits near the Buckley Bay terminal, was not put into service.
Humphries explained since the ferry was taken out of service it has not yet completed the full repair and analysis needed before going back into service.
Additionally, Shannon Miller, communications officer for BC Emergency Health Services confirmed while ferry service was interrupted, BCEHS responded to two separate patients on Denman who were airlifted via air ambulance helicopter to hospital, one in the morning and one later in the day.
The $15-million, 78.5 metre cable ferry began service late January 2016 with ‘soft sailings’ and regular sailings in February. It is capable of carrying 50 vehicles and 150 passengers, and with a crossing of about 1,900 meters, it is believed to be the longest cable ferry in the world.
While the ferry has met the corporation’s expectations, some Island residents continue to raise concerns over its dependability.