BC Ferries has awarded a $15-million contract to Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards to build B.C. Ferries' first cable ferry serving the Buckley Bay-Denman Island route.

The ferry corporation says the new vessel will replace the MV Quinitsa, an 80-metre-long vessel built in 1977, and will accommodate up to 50 vehicles and 150 passengers. It should be in service by the summer of 2015. 

The announcement comes a week after BC Ferries commissioner Gordon Macatee approved the capital expenditure.

Since then, there has been some opposition to the cable ferry. Denman Island residents have expressed concerns about its safety and reliability.

BC Ferries vice president of engineering Mark Wilson says the request-for-proposals, or RFP, issued in September 2013 resulted in three shortlisted shipyards — two in Vancouver and one in Seattle, following a worldwide tendering process.

MV Quinitsa at Buckley Bay November 07

The MV Quinitsa shown here plying the waters of Buckley Bay in November 2007 is to be replaced by the province's first cable ferry. (BC Ferries)

"We are pleased that Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards is the successful bidder and that the ship will be built here in British Columbia,” he said.

Seaspan president Brian Carter says the announcement is good news for B.C. shipyard workers.

“Seaspan has a long-standing history of working with BC Ferries and we are very pleased they are investing in this new vessel and helping Seaspan invest in its shipyard workers and our new facility," he said.

In a written statement announcing the Seaspan contract, BC Ferries says the cable ferry will save the company $80 million over its 40-year life compared to the cost of running the current ship, which will help reduce the pressure on future fare increases.