Evening ferry passengers aboard the Skeena Queen are seeing some relief as BC Ferries restores the next Friday and Saturday crossings in time for the BC Day long weekend.
In an updated advisory on Monday, the company said canceled crossings on July 29 and 30 between 5:50 p.m. and 9 p.m. from Victoria (Swartz Bay) to Salt Spring Island (Fulford Harbour) and vice versa should now travel as scheduled. .
However, after a weekend of cancellations due to a crew shortage, further canceled Skeena Queen sailings are on the horizon from Monday July 25 to Thursday July 28, according to BC Ferries.
This means that 5:50 p.m. sailing from Fulford Harbour, 7:00 p.m. from Swartz Bay, 7:50 p.m. from Fulford Harbor and 9:00 p.m. from Swartz Bay are all prohibited on these four days. .
“It’s still a personnel issue. In this case, it’s one of the senior executives on board. He’s been sick, but he’s coming back,” Harold Swierenga, advisory chairman of the Salt Spring Island Ferry, told CHEK News on Monday.
“As of last sailing, commercial traffic is pretty good for the day. It is therefore a major advantage. However, people coming and going, of course, that’s a real problem,” he said.
To help combat cancellations, BC Ferries says a 48-person water taxi will provide free service between the two islands on the regularly posted schedule, starting at 5:50 p.m. from Fulford Harbour.
“Sailings will depart from the adjacent Government Dock in Swartz Bay and the Government Dock in Fulford Harbour. The walk from the Swartz Bay foot passenger cabins to the wharf is approximately 10 minutes, and terminal staff will be available to provide directions,” the notice reads.
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Swierenga says the recent ferry cancellations come amid the summer rush and mean people have to change the way they do business, including himself.
“As for people coming to the island, we also have a guesthouse,” he said.
“Of course, most chalets and B&Bs only rent monthly in the summer and changeover day is usually Friday or Saturday. We have notified people to ensure they take the ferry.
In an interview last Friday, Salt Spring Island Chamber of Commerce director of operations Alexander Fischer-Jean noted that the constant cancellations are causing stress and hardship for residents and businesses.
Fischer-Jean also said a lack of affordable housing for ferry workers could contribute to problems on local roads.
Apologizing for any inconvenience customers may experience due to cancellations, BC Ferries says the decision to cancel a sailing “is made when we have exhausted all options to find a replacement crew”.
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“We require a specific number of crew members on board the ship to ensure the safety of our passengers in the unlikely event of an emergency and to comply with Transport Canada regulations,” he said. declared.
The company adds that customers traveling by water taxi can leave their license plate number with the ticket agent for free parking at the Swartz Bay terminal.
But people who don’t have access to their car while on Salt Spring Island is something Swierenga calls “a real pain in the ass.”
“Looking forward, hopefully it will all be over by next weekend, and we can get back to some normality which has been tricky lately,” he added.
-With files from April Lawrence of CHEK.
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