British Columbia

B.C. Ferries cancels key Canada Day sailings over mechanical issue as long weekend traffic begins

B.C. Ferries cancelled more than half a dozen Thursday sailings between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island due to a mechanical issue with one of its ships, straining traffic ahead of the long weekend.

Sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay cancelled Thursday and Friday

Passengers are pictured waiting in line at the B.C. Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen, B.C. on June 30, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

B.C. Ferries has cancelled key Canada Day sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island due to an ongoing mechanical issue with one of its ships, straining traffic during what was already expected to be a busy long weekend.

Sailings between Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver and Departure Bay in Nanaimo were first called off from morning to midnight on Thursday because the Queen of Alberni is out of service, according to a statement online.

Those cancellations will now continue through the day for Canada Day on Friday.

"Following an earlier engineering update, an additional issue was discovered with the Queen of Alberni's piston assembly, which will require critical machining to repair," the statement said.

"Our engineering team continues to work diligently to resolve the issue."

    Even before the cancellations, the corporation had warned travellers to expect a busy weekend at its terminals because Canada Day and Independence Day are falling on the same weekend for the first time in six years.

    Passengers at the B.C. Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen, B.C., faced multiple sailing waits if they didn't have a reservation. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

    The cancelled Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay sailings on Thursday are:

    • 2:45 p.m. out of Horseshoe Bay.
    • 5:00 p.m. out of Departure Bay.
    • 7:20 p.m. out of Horseshoe Bay.
    • 9:30 p.m. out of Departure Bay.
    • 11:40 p.m. out of Horseshoe Bay.

    The following sailings are cancelled Friday:

    • 7:40 a.m. out of Departure Bay.
    • 10:00 a.m. out of Horseshoe Bay.
    • 12:25 p.m. out of Departure Bay.
    • 2:45 p.m. out of Horseshoe Bay.
    • 5:00 p.m. out of Departure Bay.
    • 7:20 p.m. out of Horseshoe Bay.

    Travellers trying to take the alternative route between Tsawwassen and Nanaimo's Duke Point will face multiple sailing waits without a reservation.

    Andrew and Beatrice Kouri left their home in Vancouver at 4:30 a.m., hoping to catch the 8 a.m. ferry from Tsawwassen, but anticipated a wait.

    "We're doing great. We packed lunch. We're prepared," said Kouri.

    A person in a high-vis jacket stands on the road among dozens of lined-up cars.
    A worker is pictured directing traffic B.C. Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen, B.C., on Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

    B.C. Ferries said repairs to the Queen of Alberni's main engine are "significant ... with a number of tests and trials remaining to ensure it is ready to sail."

    The corporation said customers with bookings on cancelled sailings would be contacted to let them know if they can be placed on a sailing later in the day.

    In the case of cancelled bookings, fees and fares will be refunded. 

    With files from Jessica Cheung

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