There’s still no word from the provincial government about the future of ferry services to the islands and the north.
BC Ferries representatives were on the islands over a year ago to conduct public consultations, and submitted a report last September recommending the north’s fleet of aged ships be replaced with three new ones – essentially retaining the status quo for service.
But there isn’t much choice, since all three northern vessels (Queen of the North, Queen of Prince Rupert, and the Queen of Chilliwack) will be decommissioned after 2010.
The cost to build three brand-new ships will be tremendous, and the northern routes are big money-losers. Part of what the province is now deciding is how much money it’s willing to pitch in to prop up the northern routes.
The report estimates that it will take as much as 42 months (3 _ years) between the time the decision is made to when the ships are in service – which means that time is running out.
And meanwhile, both coastal residents and BCFC are left wondering what ferry services will look like in the future.
“We’re waiting to hear back ourselves,” said BC Ferries spokesman Deborah Marshall. Ms Marshall added that any decisions will likely be delayed until the election dust has settled. However, she did note that the BC Liberals’ election platform included a brief mention of the northern ferries.
“We will work with BC Ferries to deliver three new ships and improved ferry service between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert, the mid-coast and the Charlottes,” says the platform, which can be found on the BC Liberals website.
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