By Alex Rinfret–Traffic on the Kwuna has plummeted to the point where BC Ferries staff are researching “options” for the future of the service, which connects Graham and Moresby Islands.
“We know we have issues on Route 26,” Captain Edward Dahlgren said at a meeting in Queen Charlotte July 21. “Traffic is 15-percent down in the last monthÂ… There are crewing issues and infrastructure issues.”
However, no decisions have been made yet and any schedule change would have to go through a public consultation process before being implemented, he said.
Captain Dahlgren, BC Ferries marine superintendent for the north coast, is currently conducting an internal review which involves preparing several business plans, or options. When he comes up with a plan, he will go to the community with it, he said.
He did not rule out changing the Kwuna’s mooring place to Skidegate Landing from Alliford Bay, saying he had just recently learned that the Alliford Bay site is outside Sandspit’s fire protection boundary.
Several islanders attending the meeting said they wished BC Ferries staff had spoken directly to the community instead of allowing rumours to swirl.
“It is important, this is a local issue,” said Carol Kulesha, who sits on the BC Ferries stakeholders committee for this region. “People need to be involved in the process of consultation before decisions are made.”
Captain Dahlgren said the rumours were probably the result of his speaking to local Ferries employees about the issue, and insisted he did not yet have enough solid information to present anything to the public.
“Until we have viable optionsÂ… it seems difficult to come forward and do consultation,” he said, adding that he is trying to collect hard data about traffic levels, fuel costs and so on. “Our goal is to come to the community in the early fall.”
Meanwhile, the Kwuna is soon going away for a life-extending refit and will be replaced by a barge service which will run on a reduced 12-hour schedule, Captain Dahlgren said. The barge service is to start in September and will be in place for 70 days.
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