02/01/2013 11:52 EST | Updated 04/03/2013 05:12 EDT

Ferry terminal upgrades on Comox-Powell River route to add hours to crossing

POWELL RIVER, B.C. - Residents of two B.C. communities are on notice that their usually simple ferry commute will become a lot more complicated for more than a month, next year.

B.C. Ferries plans to upgrade its Little River terminal in Comox on Vancouver Island and the Westview terminal in Powell River, on the upper Sunshine Coast, starting in early 2014.

The 80-minute ferry ride between the two cities will be replaced with a route from Saltery Bay, south of Powell River, to Departure Bay in Nanaimo, more than doubling the sailing time to three hours.

That run will continue for about a month, then be replaced for several more weeks by a two hour detour from Comox to Saltery Bay, before the Powell River terminal reopens and the route returns to normal.

B.C. Ferries plans meetings in February to brief residents on both sides of Georgia Strait about the changes, which will affect Powell River residents who travel to Comox and Courtenay for medical appointments and other vital business.

The link between the two cities is so close that B.C. Ferries arranged charter airline flights and a shuttle service for stranded passengers when the Powell River to Comox route was disrupted last February by unexpected mechanical issues aboard the Queen of Burnaby. (CKAY)