A Williams Lake Councillor is expressing disappointment that there will be no direct ferry service connecting Bella Coola and Port Hardy until mid-October.
Jason Ryll who is a member of the original mid-coast BC Ferry working group consisting of tourism operators, government officials, and First Nation representatives, says they were on a conference call Monday with BC Ferries when they received the bad news that the Northern Sea Wolf was not going to be ready.
“That kind of news is really disappointing and there’s not much we can do about it so it’s really unfortunate,” he says.
“Our tourism operators were really counting on it and the communities as well. We’re just kind of held up in this really tough spot.”
Ryll adds that he believes the delay will hurt tourism operators.
“We’re continuing to restrict access for tourists to get to their businesses. That kind of loss of income is detrimental,” he says.
“This is going to be the second year in a row that we’ve restricted access or that access has been restricted due to either wildfires or just transportation restrictions.”
BC Ferries President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Collins said they recognize this has a major impact on their customers and the Tourism businesses in the North Island and Central Coast regions.
He said they will redeploy the Northern Adventure to provide two round-trip sailings per week from September 16 until the end of the summer season on October 11.
“The Northern Adventure is a large and proven vessel in our northern services, with speed and comfort that passengers will appreciate,” said Collins in a release.
“This is the earliest date the vessel could be made available for the Bella Coola direct service.”
Requiring substantial upgrades, the Northern Sea Wolf was purchased by BC Ferries following the Province’s announcement in 2016 of a direct seasonal service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.