B.C. reinstates ferry route between Port Hardy, mid-coast communities
Service cuts in 2014 were widely criticized for killing tourism in the region
Four years after BC Ferries cut service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola, the service says it's buying a used vessel in order to begin another run between the two communities.
The company says it is finalizing an agreement to buy a 75-metre ferry that is operating in Greece, for the equivalent of about $12.6 million.
It says the vessel, currently named Aqua Spirit, was built in 2000, will accommodate a minimum of 35 vehicles and 150 passengers and crew.
Service on the new route is expected to start in the summer of 2018, running five days a week mid-June through mid-September on the direct route between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.
BC Ferries said the ship will also provide service to Bella Bella, Ocean Falls and Shearwater in the summer and the off-season.
The trip between Port Hardy and Bella Coola is expected to take about 10 hours and will be scheduled during the day to "maximize tourism potential."
Community leaders complained after the cuts in 2013 that removing the ferry was a large lost opportunity for tourism.
Aboriginal leaders on B.C.'s mid-coast spoke out against the ferry cuts when they were announced in 2014, later saying the lack of service was killing tourism.
At the time, Transportation Minister Todd Stone said Aboriginal tourism operators would have to learn to live with the cuts.
With files from CBC News