‘One disaster after another’: Denman Islanders affected by cable ferry disruption – BC

Denman Island residents expressed frustration Thursday with the latest breakdown of a cable car serving the island.

Mechanical issues sidelined the Baynes Sound Connector, which links Denman Island and Vancouver Island, Thursday morning.

“Extremely frustrated,” Denman Island resident Ricia Hollinger told Global News upon finding herself stranded on Vancouver Island Thursday morning.

“My car is full of things that have to go in the refrigerator. My medications are at home and I really need them. “I wasn’t planning on spending this whole day here.”

Click to play video: 'BC Ferries begins vessel replacement process'

BC Ferries begins the process of replacing vessels

Denman Islanders Claire Deebleu and Natalie Mathis were among nine residents who banded together to spend more than $450 on a water taxi to get to the mainland.

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Both were rushing to make flights.

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“The worker told us that there would be no ferry before noon and that there was no replacement, that’s all,” Deebleu said.

Mathis added that the cable car has been “surely unreliable.”

“This ferry breaks down so much that we already have ferry anxiety on the island,” he said.

“I was considering spending the night in Comox last night but I thought, no, your flight isn’t until 11, calm down, you’re being a hysterical islander, and this is exactly why.”

BC Ferries spokesperson Jeff Groot said crews were performing regular overnight maintenance on the ferry when they ran into mechanical problems and had to take the ship out of service for most of the day.

“We recognize that we are one of the only ways to get on and off the island and providing that service is really important to us,” Groot said, adding that the situation was “obviously not ideal.”

Click to play video: 'BC Ferries launches plan to avoid canceled trips'

BC Ferries launches plan to avoid canceled trips

Groot said BC Ferries was able to move a replacement boat to service the island late in the morning and would supplement it with a water taxi service if the outage lasted longer than expected.

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“What we have really seen is a small improvement year over year with the Baynes Sound Connector; “We have seen about a 40 percent decrease in the number of cancellations,” he said.

“However, at the end of the day, it makes no difference to the people who are stranded there today.”

Since April last year, 83 trips have been canceled on the route, a rate of 0.6 percent.

NDP MLA Josie Osborne, who represents the area, said that’s not enough.

“We all want to see the responsiveness, we want to see contingency plans, but we want to see the long-term solution for this ferry that seems to be plagued with problems,” he said.

Meanwhile, islanders want the cable ferry removed and replaced with a traditional boat.

“There have been many repetitive problems with the cable car. We fought hard against it, we told them no, we had never had so many problems with ferries in our entire history on the island,” Hollinger said.

“It’s just one disaster after another.”

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