Gulf Island travellers demand compensation from BC Ferries

The BC Ferries crash on the weekend that cut direct service between Metro Vancouver and the Gulf Islands has some islanders demanding an apology and compensation.

Island business owners say the six-hour detour is too long for most travellers

There are no direct sailings from Tsawwassen to S. Gulf Islands 2:17

The BC Ferries crash on the weekend that cut direct service between Metro Vancouver and the Gulf Islands has some islanders demanding an apology and compensation.

Max Bakken and his partner have a cabin on Galiano, where a dozen friends gathered last weekend. But he says the trip turned into a nightmare after the ferry crash ended direct service to Vancouver.

Bakken says it took his guests eight hours to travel home from Galiano to the Lower Mainland on the alternate route through Swartz Bay.

He says one guest left Galiano at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, so she could attend a Canucks game that night, but she never made it.

"Nobody made any effort to apologize or compensate," he told CBC News.

Bakken has asked the ferry corporation for an apology, to provide his guests with a voucher for a round trip to Galiano, and to compensate one guest for the price of her Canucks ticket worth about $200.

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall says it is considering several compensation requests from Galiano.

"We will certainly be reviewing any and all compensation requests from customers on a case-by-case basis, but I wouldn't comment on a particular one individual."

High winds blamed for crash

The Queen of Nanaimo, which normally sails between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands, was taken out of service for at least a week after it crashed into a private dock on Saturday.

High winds blew the vessel off course near the terminal on Mayne Island, forcing the crew to drop the anchor, which led the vessel to swing into the private dock.

On Sunday divers determined the propeller and hull were damaged and BC Ferries announced the ship would be taken out of service for repairs for at least a week.

BC Ferries say because of maintenance underway on other vessels, there is no replacement available and travellers heading from Tsawwassen to the islands now face a six-hour detour through Swartz Bay.

Businesses take a hit too

Meanwhile business operators on the islands are concerned about lost revenue during the upcoming long weekend.

Conny Nordin, the president of the Galiano Island Chamber of Commerce says that's a worry for many Gulf Island businesses.

"It's going to be a hit on us for sure," said Nordin, who is also the owner of the Ocean Front Inn and Spa on Galiano Island.

The winter months are normally slow for island businesses, but Nordin says profits from the November long weekend help them get through the month.

"Particularly the long weekend means a lot more business for us, and it's kind of the bread and butter time for us in November to be honest."

Nordin says the trip, which was about an hour, is now just too long for many Vancouver visitors.

"For some people that means six hours travel time, which is probably not going to happen." 

"It's quite a dramatic loss to us. The Queen of Nanaimo is our lifeline to Vancouver and we're Vancouver-based  so are our guests, our clients, our shoppers."

Nordin is hoping BC Ferries will come up another solution.

Spokeswoman Deborah Marshall says it's unclear how long it will take for the Queen of Nanaimo to start running again, but the ferry corporation is adding more sailing times during the long weekend

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

EXTRA SAILINGS - Remembrance Day long weekend

Friday Nov. 8

MV Mayne Queen

12:45 p.m. PT Swartz Bay to Pender and Mayne islands, returning to Swartz Bay at 3:00 p.m.

MV Skeena Queen

9:50 p.m. PT Fulford Harbour terminal on Salt Spring Island to Swartz Bay

11:00 p.m. PT Swartz Bay to Salt Spring Island

Spirit of Vancouver Island

Additional sailings from Swartz Bay at 8:00 a.m. PT and from Tsawwassen at 10:00 a.m. PT to assist with transfers between the Southern Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen through Swartz Bay.

Saturday Nov. 9

MV Mayne Queen

1:30 p.m. PT Swartz Bay to Pender and Mayne islands, returning to Swartz Bay at 3:40 p.m. PT

Spirit of Vancouver Island

Additional sailings from Swartz Bay at 8:00 a.m. PT and from Tsawwassen at 10:00 a.m. PT to assist with transfers between the Southern Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen through Swartz Bay.

Monday Nov. 11

MV Mayne Queen

12:35 p.m. PT Swartz Bay to Pender and Mayne islands, returning to Swartz Bay at 2:15 p.m.

Coastal Renaissance

Additional sailings from Swartz Bay at 2:00 p.m. PT and 6:00 p.m. PT and from Tsawwassen at 12:00 p.m. PT and 4:00 p.m. PT to assist with transfer traffic between the Southern Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen through Swartz Bay.

Note: All the above extra sailings are in addition to the supplemental trips previously scheduled for the Remembrance Day long weekend.


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