Seeing the MV Quinitsa pull into Vesuvius Bay for the next six weeks might bring back some unpleasant memories for Salt Spring ferry riders — perhaps reminding them of the days of the first huge overloads in 2019.
Three years ago now, when BC Ferries brought the 44-vehicle-capacity “small boat” in to replace the 55-year-old Howe Sound Queen, somehow thinking and trying to convince the community that the Quinitsa would be a long-term replacement for Route 6 between Vesuvius and Crofton.
But as ridership increased — and stubbornly refused to ebb in traditionally slower winter months — islanders rightfully voiced their displeasure watching traffic back up into Vesuvius, delaying passengers and snarling neighbourhoods. Sailing waits for both Route 6 and the Fulford-Swarz Bay Route 4 were nothing new for summer travellers, but the lineups created dangerous situations on narrow roads. And as things worsened, it became clear we were in danger of seeing this become the year-round “normal” for our island
Salt Springers, fortunately, spoke up. In the process of finding solutions to our ferry woes, our community would find its voice — through advocacy groups like the Fix for Route 6, our tireless Salt Spring Island Ferry Advisory Committee, and residents giving their input through feedback forms and emails. We now see a result: a path forward with the “Performance Term Six” submission, BC Ferries’ “wish list” to ease pressure on our roadways and residents.
As BC Ferries sends its planning priorities for the coming years to the BC Ferries Commission — asking for two new Island Class ferries year-round for Route 6, and to bolster the Skeena Queen with the Quinsam during peak summer months on Route 4 — we feel this submission is a solid first step toward addressing our growing needs. But it is by any measure only the beginning; our community must keep up the pressure for these changes to remain a priority.
Salt Spring’s reputation is not one of keeping our opinions to ourselves. In this case particularly, we feel that’s a prescription for success.