‘A service we can’t rely on’: Sunshine Coast residents frustrated with BC Ferries delays

By Andrew Cowie and Shawn Ayers

After a summer of delays and cancellations at BC Ferries, locals on the Sunshine Coast say they’re tired of a broken system.

Passengers were forced to wait hours at the Horseshoe Bay terminal due to delays in sailings Wednesday. Bill Sewards, a longtime Gibsons resident, says the reservation system is not set up to support locals.

“What we have is a ferry service that we can’t rely on, almost monthly now, to get back and forward,” he said.

“They don’t have back-up ferries. If you have two ferries booked 70 per cent full, then [if] one of the ferry breaks down, then automatically the next ferry is booked 140 per cent. And that’s just with the bookings.”

Sewards says the scene at the ferry terminals lately has been chaotic, and some of the worst he’s seen over 25 years using the ferries.

“[BC Ferries] visualize themselves as an airline. But airlines have backup airplanes. You should see it down here … We had the highway plugged up down here last night,” explained Sewards.

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He says a big problem is BC Ferries continues to favour the interests of tourists over locals.

“The bottom line here is that BC Ferries has set this whole ferry system up 100 per cent towards tourism. And the problem is they don’t have the ferry capacity to run a tourist system and a [system for residents].”

“We’re treated as second-class citizens because we’re not tourists. I want tourism. This can’t be against tourism. The thing is we can’t run a ferry system, working half the boats for tourists and not even have … enough capacity for the residents.”

Sewards adds this is a much bigger problem, especially when residents are in need of any medical attention in Vancouver and can’t leave.

“If we go online as a resident … and we want to book to go across for a doctor’s appointment we can’t book. Now, if we book if we phone them back, and we say I want to book a vacation, then magically, all of a sudden openings appear.”

He says people book appointments weeks in advance, so when a ferry goes down it can have a dangerous ripple effect for the locals in need.

CityNews has reached out to BC Ferries for a comment and are waiting for a response.

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