NEWS

Travel between B.C.'s Southern Gulf Islands free for 4 days only

06/18/2015 08:40 EDT | Updated 06/18/2016 05:59 EDT
For the next four days residents and visitors to British Columbia's Gulf Islands will have a chance to travel between Salt Spring, Galiano, Mayne, Saturna and Pender Island for free, in a community initiative called Tour des Îles.

"These are all very close geographically, but impossible to navigate, so for these four days, every couple of hours there will be small boats that take between four and 10 people," said George Harris, co-founder and Galiano Island Trustee.

Journeys between the islands will take from 10 to 25 minutes and Harris says each island is organizing special events that include live music, art displays and even a golf tournament.

"I know Saturna shuttles will be met with mocktails and people dressed in costumes. Each island is trying to outdo the other islands."

'These incredible islands'

The event is being organized by representatives from each island with a hope of building bridges and rekindling relationships.

"We want to recreate the community that some of us old timers remember, where families were spread out around the islands...and we could visit each other.

"That's become almost impossible over the last many years."

Harris says it's also helped develop relationships that will hopefully align the Southern Gulf Islands, allowing them to coordinate on future issues.

"We are very keen on preserving and protecting these incredible islands. As a group of islands, we have a louder voice to advocate for tanker traffic, better ferries or environmental concerns."

The Tour des Îles reservation system went live on Tuesday and within 18 hours there were over 200 reservations.

"Sometimes you hope things will work out and when they work out too well, you have to reconsider what you are trying to do," said Harris.

"If there is too many people, the [boats] will just circle back and bring more people until everybody has gotten to the next destination."

To hear the full interview with George Harris, listen to the audio labelledFree Gulf Islands shuttle service.

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