NEWS

BC Ferries crash threatens Gulf Islands businesses

11/04/2013 10:56 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST
The BC Ferries crash on the weekend that cut direct service between Metro Vancouver and the Gulf Islands has business operators concerned about lost revenue during the upcoming long weekend.

The Queen of Nanaimo, which normally sails between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands, was taken out of service for at least a week after it crashed into a private dock on Saturday.

High winds blew the vessel off course near the terminal on Mayne Island, forcing the crew to drop the anchor, which led to the vessel swing into the private dock.

On Sunday divers determined the propeller and hull were damaged and BC Ferries announced the ship would be taken out of service for repairs for at least a week.

BC Ferries say because of maintenance underway on other vessels, there is no replacement available and travellers heading from Tsawwassen to the islands now face a six-detour through Swartz Bay.

Businesses take a hit too

Conny Nordin, the president of the Galiano Island Chamber of Commerce says that's a worry for many Gulf Island businesses.

"It's going to be a hit on us for sure," said Nordin, who is also the owner of the Ocean Front Inn and Spa on Galiano Island.

The winter months are normally slow for island businesses, but Nordin says usually profits from the November long weekend normally help them get through the month.

"Particularly the long weekend means a lot more business for us, and it's kind of the bread and butter time for us in November to be honest."

Nordin says the trip, which was about an hour, is now just too long for many Vancouver visitors.

"For some people that means a six hours travel time, which is probably not going to happen." 

"It's quite a dramatic loss to us. The Queen of Nanaimo is our lifeline to Vancouver and we're Vancouver- based, so are our guests, our clients, our shoppers."

Nordin is hoping BC Ferries will come up another solution.

Spokeswoman Deborah Marshall says it's unclear how long it will take for the Queen of Nanaimo to start running again, but the ferry corporation is looking for ways to add more sailing times during the long weekend

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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