Clipper sinks Vancouver-Victoria ferry plan at 11th hour

Clipper Navigation Ltd. had planned to launch its jet catamaran service between downtown Vancouver and Victoria in spring 2018.

Expense of dock upgrades drove costs too high, CEO says

Seattle company Clipper Navigation Ltd. has cancelled plans to run a passenger ferry between Victoria and Vancouver.

Clipper acquired a new ferry and was set to operate between the two harbours starting in spring 2018.

However, the cost of upgrading the dock in Vancouver was ultimately too high, CEO David Gudgel said.

"It was really an 11th-hour decision," Gudgel said.

"We ran into some last-minute issues with our berthing that were driving the costs up, outside of the business model that we thought would have been successful."

Gudgel said the company's recently acquired 52-metre catamaran, renamed Clipper V, will instead be used on the existing Victoria to Seattle route.

"We had to make a decision to do something different with the boat and luckily we have a great route that's been established over the last 31 years," he said.

Changes for another ferry service

Meanwhile, another Vancouver-to-Victoria ferry service announced plans Thursday to shift its home berth from Vancouver's harbour to a berth across from the Empress Hotel in downtown Victoria.

V2V Vacations launched a luxury high speed passenger ferry earlier this year, but it was sidelined by mechanical problems at the end of the summer.

The new winter schedule would see the vessel depart from Victoria at 9 a.m. and from Vancouver at 1:30 p.m. No date has been announced for resuming service.

Cost of living concerned staff

"In reviewing our passenger records we discovered that many of our Victoria guests were requiring an earlier departure to Vancouver than we were offering," vice president of operations Bryden Smith said in a statement.

"Those in Vancouver preferred to spend more time in the city before departing to enjoy B.C.'s capital."

The company also said employees raised concerns about the cost of living and the early morning commute in Vancouver.