Viewpoint: Ferry situation untenable
By KEVIN BELL
Many of you folks will remember with fondness some of the 20-plus years that Barb Isles and Mary Paul ran Mouat’s Clothing. I had the good fortune to be their “boss” for a good portion of those years and like a good boss I did precisely what they suggested I should do.
Barb and Mary were very clever when it came to fashion retailing but, like most people, they could make the odd mistake. Here’s the prize: they would try something, analyze the result and, if it was not sound, they would correct it. Even if it meant abandoning the idea. This is a very simple strategy, but it’s remarkable how seldom it’s employed.
A case in point relates to BC Ferries, and a quick recap will be helpful. The Howe Sound Queen, a 60+ car ferry operating on the Vesuvius-Crofton route, reached its expiry date this spring and was retired by BC Ferries. This seems to have caught BCF by surprise because they replaced the Howe Sound Queen with the Quinitsa, a 45+ car ferry. Now, the Howe Sound Queen was experiencing overloads for some years prior to its retirement, but somehow BCF felt that a significantly smaller ship was the appropriate replacement vessel. To its credit, BCF added two sailings per day to the route and now point, with some satisfaction, to the somewhat more comparable capacity of the two ferries given the added sailings (see the explanatory ad in last week’s Driftwood). This is precisely the reason that I can tell that BCF has learned absolutely nothing from its earlier mistake.
Currently, taking a ferry to or from Salt Spring has become a very real problem. There are often ferry lineups in Vesuvius extending from the terminal to well beyond Sunset Drive (likely a three-sailing wait). The other day we brought our vehicle to Vesuvius at 8:20 in anticipation of catching the 9:35 ferry. The parking lot was already full and cars had begun queuing up Vesuvius Bay Road. This was over an hour in advance of the next sailing and we were already well into a two-sailing wait.
A note to BCF: If passengers are expected to sit in ferry lineups for one, two or perhaps three hours, then ferry capacity will never be an issue because BCF will be leaving with full ships every sailing. The real issue is not capacity, it’s the adverse impact on the residents of and visitors to Salt Spring who can no longer rely on a reasonably efficient and effective ferry service. Constant overloads and serious wait times are taking away a good deal of the pleasure of living on Salt Spring.
Because the needs and quality of life of the ferry users are not important components of the BCF planning process is how I know that they don’t really understand what they are meant to be doing.
I know two retired clothing store managers who would have this problem solved in short order.