BC Ferries will be acquiring a 17-year-old vessel to provide direct-summer service in 2018 between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.
“The board and stakeholders of the Mid Coast Ferry Working Group have been working in cooperation with the provincial government and BC Ferries on the commitment to reinstate or direct a new direct service with route 28 in 2018, and this announcement of a new vessel is bringing the pieces together, says CEO of Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA), Amy Thacker.
The vessel which will undergo major upgrades from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018, will accommodate more than 35 vehicles and 150 passengers and crew. All passenger areas will be refurbished including lounges, the galley, washrooms and outer-deck spaces.
The vessel, currently named the Aqua Spirit, will also replace the 44-year old Nimpkish, which provides a year-round connector service on route 10S between Bella Coola and other mid-coast ports of Bella Bella, Ocean Falls and Shearwater.
The BC Government is providing BC Ferries $15 million for its’ purchase.
Summer service is scheduled to begin in 2018 and will run from mid-June through mid-September on the direct route between Port Hardy and Bella Coola five times per week.
“It will be extremely goods news for our industry providing daylight direct service from Port Hardy to Bella Coola, provides a circle root access into the Great Bear Rain Forest and across the Chilcotin so it will have significant volume impacts in a positive way for all of our operators,” says Thacker.