Vehicles travelling from the Sunshine Coast to Horseshoe Bay on Monday without a reservation are facing at least a two-sailing wait, as of 12:30 p.m. That comes on the heels of Sunday's three sailing wait to leave the Coast. Some vehicles were waiting seven and a half hours to leave the Coast Sunday, Southern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee (SSCFAC) chair Diana Mumford told Coast Reporter.
The overloads come as BC Ferries cancelled a slew of sailings on the Langdale and Nanaimo routes through September and the beginning of October as the ferry service shuffles vessels to cover the Vancouver Island-servicing Coastal Renaissance's absence.
"I am extremely concerned as they brought [the cancellations] in in the beginning of September and they have provided no support to deal with this," Mumford said Monday morning. "This is supposed to end October 9 but there's no assurances that that's when [the Coastal Rennaissance] is actually going to be back on the routes. So maybe this will go on longer."
The cancellations also affect the 5:30 p.m. commuter sailing from Horseshoe Bay, causing longer days and less family time for those who work in the city.
These concerns will be top of mind for the SSCFAC as they gather Wednesday, Sept. 20 for their biannual meeting with senior BC Ferries staffers. The meeting is 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Gibsons Public Market and will be followed by a community drop-in session from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Both are open to the public.
The SSCFAC will raise on-time performance and overloads, says Mumford, and highlight the issue of holding traffic above the tollbooth in Horseshoe Bay where there's a lack of services, especially for children, elderly people and people returning from medical appointments, among other issues.
"A lot of these items on our agenda Wednesday have to do with what we brought up in the [June FAC meeting]. There were actionable items the BC Ferries was supposed to come back with responses – so we will be asking for those responses."
The ferry service's community engagement portal for the event raises concerns that the "ferry waits are inhumane," a need for year-round two-ferry service, and the need for resident priority boarding.
Given the Coast's on-time and overload performance (73.1 per cent and 31.3 per cent respectively for the 2023 fiscal year), Mumford is wondering why the Coast isn't getting more support.
"I am so frustrated because we keep bringing it up and we keep getting platitudes and no change," said Mumford. "What have they done to help us with this right now? That's my question. What are you doing to help alleviate some of the pressures on our sailings. People should not have to sit for seven and a half hours. "
Also of note
- The Gambier and Keats Islands Ferry Advisory Committee meeting will also be Sept. 20 at Gibsons Public Market, this one taking place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- And, the Langdale-Horseshoe Bay ferry schedule is changing Oct. 3 and 4 while the Langdale terminal's primary berth undergoes repairs.