British Columbia

2nd Denman Island cable ferry breakdown prompts call for backup

Another breakdown for the controversial new B.C. cable ferry that connects Denman Island to Vancouver Island has some calling for a contingency plan.

BC Ferries says the Baynes Sound Connector has mostly performed well

The new Denman Island cable ferry, the Baynes Sound Connector, is the first of its kind for BC Ferries. (BC Ferries/Twitter)

Another breakdown for the controversial new B.C. cable ferry connecting two Gulf Islands to Vancouver Island has some calling for a contingency plan.

The Baynes Sound Connector was out of service for a few hours again last week, just as people tried to reach Denman and Hornby islands for the long weekend.

"Anything that might give people a bad impression or make it difficult for them to get there, it's really going to make them, I guess you could say, less likely to make the effort to take a holiday on Denman or Hornby," said Frank Frketich, chair of the Denman Island-Hornby Island Ferry Advisory Committee.

The Quinitsa, a conventional ferry that used to serve the route, was brought in to help. Frketich said he has asked whether it could stay in the area through the summer. 

But BC Ferries says there's no plan to keep using it as a backup.

"Granted we have had two issues, but keep in mind that vessel has made thousands of sailings already," said BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall. 

The Baynes Sound Connector was stranded by a hydraulic failure in May, leaving the ship dead in the water with 25 passengers aboard. 

The cable ferry is a first for the BC Ferries fleet. According to BC Ferries, the new ferry uses less than half the fuel of the Quinitsa, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 480 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually.

Residents had expressed concerns about the vessel's reliability before it went into operation earlier this year, some of them wondering if a cable ferry would be able to handle ocean conditions and West Coast weather. 

With files from Megan Thomas