$15K booking cancelled due to Galiano Island ferry service disruption, says local business

A Galiano Island business wants better communication from B.C. Ferries regarding ongoing service disruptions after a WorkSafe incident that sent two to hospital resulted in the Queen of Cumberland being removed from service to the southern Gulf Islands.

B.C. Ferries says difficult to source replacements for failed equipment, disruptions to continue into mid-May

The Queen of Cumberland was built in 1992 and has the capacity to carry 112 cars and 462 passengers and crew. A davit, or crane used to lower lifeboats, failed on April 18th, sending two workers into the water. The vessel is now projected to be out of service until at least Mid-May. (BC Ferries)

Residents, businesses and travellers in the southern Gulf Islands will have to wait until at least mid-May before regular ferry service is restored, following an equipment failure that occurred April 18.

In April, the vessel's davit — a small crane commonly used to  lift and lower lifeboats — failed, dropping two crew members into the ocean. They were both taken to hospital. One suffered serious injuries.

B.C. Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said sourcing a new davit would take up to six months, so B.C. Ferries is instead opting to bring one in from Eastern Canada.

"It isn't a standard item," she told Jason D'Souza, the host of CBC's All Points West.

Once the crane arrives, B.C. Ferries will need to get regulatory approval to install it and then train crew members on the new piece of equipment.

"There may need to be some structural modifications to the vessel to accommodate [the davit]," Marshall said.

"Unfortunately we've scoured everywhere looking for a new davit or a slightly used davit and we haven't been able to locate one outside of this one we've got in Atlantic Canada, so we are going to get that one out here as soon as possible."

$15K booking cancelled by client

In the meantime, businesses are hurting because of unreliable ferry service, according to Ian Phyper, the general manager at the Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa.

This week, he said, a financial company that had booked a corporate retreat cancelled its booking, citing the ferry as an issue. Phyper said that cost the inn about $15,000 in revenue.

"It is a huge blow for us. In the peak season, we're busy regardless, but at this time of the year, it is a big blow for us," he said.

Phyper would like to see better communication, updates on daily changes and service delays and said he's heard "absolutely nothing" from the former Crown corporation since the service issues began two weeks ago.

"It's getting to the point where our guests are complaining to us, because they can't get the answers, when in reality, we can't get the answers either," he said.

Marshall said teams have been working hard to get service updates on social media channels, through B.C. Ferries website and the media.

With files from All Points West