October 27, 2015 10:35 pm
Updated: October 27, 2015 10:53 pm

Critics warn of problems with B.C. cable ferry project

Critics say the cable ferry that's supposed to replace the diesel-powered vessel on the Denman Island route isn't doing well in trials. Jordan Armstrong reports.

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One of B.C. Ferries’ latest upgrades is running into some problems, according to people tracking its progress.

The government wants to replace the diesel-powered ferry that serves the Buckley Bay-Denman West route with a cable ferry.

Dubbed the Baynes Sound Connector, the cable ferry is months behind schedule.

“I’m embarrassed to say I worked for B.C. Ferries because of this project,” said Peter Kimmerly, a retired B.C. Ferries captain with more than 40 years of experience at sea.

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Kimmerly said there’s a long list of problems with the $15-million project.

“The ship is under-designed for the conditions,” he said. “They say the 100-year wind for this channel is 32 knots. In 2006, they experienced over triple that.”

NDP ferries critic Claire Trevana raised concerns about the project in question period.

“There are reports of rusting cables, worse fuel consumption than the present ferry,” she said.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the cable ferry is “going to as safe as the previous vessel” and will “save millions of dollars in the process.”

However, half of the $2 million to be saved each year hinges on Transport Canada scaling back the crew from six to three and that hasn’t happened yet.

“If, by chance, the crew complement was to go to four, then the operational savings would still be somewhere in the order of $1.75 million per year,” B.C. Ferries Engineering vice-president Mark Wilson said.

B.C. Ferries said critics are spreading misinformation and the project is on budget and there are no problems with the ship, fuel consumption, speed or cables.

Kimmerly, however, has his doubts.

“If everything was as it should be, why do employees have a gag order and they’re threatened with dismissal if they talk about this project?” asked Kimmerly.

-With files from Jordan Armstrong

© 2015 Shaw Media

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