Canada

B.C. fast ferries for sale

B.C. is going to auction off its Pacificat fast ferries.

British Columbia's controversial fast ferries are going to be auctioned off.

B.C. Ferries will sell its three catamarans at an unreserved auction, meaning there is no minimum price.

The PacifiCats were built by the former NDP government at a cost of $450 million. Critics say they are unlikely to bring in little more than the price of scrap. But it will finally mean an end to the "fast ferries fiasco."

The PacifiCats, built in the late 1990s, were put out of commission after it was discovered they had a number of mechanical problems and weren't much faster than regular ferries.

Doug Allen, the head of B.C. Ferries, says there's been some interest, but no solid offers. "We've been looking to sell these for a long time. Two-and-a-half years is a long time."

Ritchie Brothers president Randy Wall says his company only conducts unreserved auctions. That means although bidders have to put up a $2 million deposit to bid, there will be no minimum sale price.

"The critical nature of this event is to ensure that we have a reinvigorated (B.C. Ferries corporation) to ensure that some excitement is brought back, that the world knows there's going to be some finality." Wall says the auction will be held March 24 at Canada Place in Vancouver.

A marine expert from the United Kingdom, hired by Ritchie Brothers, admits buyers will be few, because of the ferries' limitations.

The catamarans can only operate in relatively calm conditions, making them more suitable for parts of the Mediterranean and Asia.

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