BC Ferries is pulling the Queen of Burnaby from service this week in a change that leaves Powell River residents feeling isolated.
For the third time in a year, the 51-year-old vessel will be taken to dry dock on Wednesday due to a leak in one of the propeller seals.
“I think it’s really disgusting for the people of Powell River,” says resident Caroline Adamack. “We’re always forgotten about and it makes it so difficult for us to do doctor’s appointments on the island, for the children to get to their sports venues. It will make things so much harder, and I don’t think the government ever looks after us.”
During repairs, the route will be serviced by the MV Island Sky. It is a smaller vessel and transports about 67 fewer vehicles than the Queen of Burnaby. The North Island Princess will also cover the Earls Cove to Saltery Bay route, but it can only transport 49 vehicles and won’t accept reservations.
For Texada Island foot passenger customers, a water taxi service is planned to operate between Texada Island and the government dock next to Westview Terminal in Powell River.
Powell River’s Mayor, David Formosa, calls the move frustrating, particularly for those who need to travel for various business or medical appointments.
“The schedule, which has already been cut back due to cutbacks by BC Ferries, is furthermore affected with less runs, at different times, which is confusing,” says Formosa.
BC Ferries officials say they waited until January to begin repairing the vessel in order to avoid the busy holiday travel period. The ferry is expected to be back in service by the end of January.
A new ferry, the Salish Orca, will replace the Queen of Burnaby by the end of the year.