The first of BC Ferries’ new Island Class hybrid-electric vessels arrived in Victoria last Saturday. Their engines are currently powered by a combination of electric, with 800 kWh of battery energy storage capacity, and low sulphur diesel. When the cost of energy storage becomes more economical, BC ferries plans to upgrade to 2,000 kWh and go fully electric. Half a dozen electric ferries are expected to be in service by 2022. Two of these sleek new vessels are slated for our area as one of many improvements coming to BC Ferries’ Campbell River – Quadra run.
Current Sailing Waits
There are currently more than 73 ‘one-sailing-waits‘ along this route every summer. For Cortes residents, who frequently experience two hour delays leaving their island, this periodically transforms trips to Campbell River into a six-hour-long ordeal. As the following email from the BC Ferries website shows, many Quadra Island residents are also frustrated:
“ … In the summer months, waiting for a ferry, possibly with a sailing or two wait, is a most horrible experience, with the sun beating down directly on the drivers side of vehicles. Trees would help alleviate this problem and would certainly be an improvement on the few miserable concrete containers presently used. Quadra is very much a commuter island because of proximity to Campbell River. Eventually, some solution may have to be found to address the issue of commuters vs. tourists. To arrive at the terminal after a day’s work during the summer months to find a line-up of gigantic campers, boat trailers, cars towing all manner of trailers, to say nothing of eighteen wheelers servicing a poorly located seafood processing plant, is very discouraging and ultimately can become a reason for leaving the island.”
The Electric Answer
BC Ferries’ answer is to replace the existing ferry with two smaller hybrid electrics. This will increase vehicle capacity from 60 to 94 vehicles an hour and (hopefully) translate into fewer ferry waits.
The first of these new ferries are to be deployed on the “Powell River – Texada Island” and the “Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula Island” runs this year. Another two vessels are slated for the Campbell River – Quadra Island route. A total of six electrics are expected to be in service by 2022.
Campbell River Terminal Development Plan
Plans are already afoot to develop the Campbell River terminal “in a cost-effective, phased and efficient way over the next 25 years.”
As a Quathiaski Cove resident told the Campbell River Mirror, “The design of this whole complex was basically with priority for cars.”
BC Ferries is considering ways to change that. Ten pick-up/drop-off spots and a bus stop may be installed for foot passengers arriving by vehicle. People walking to the ferry depot, from downtown, may utilize a pedestrian overpass over the Island Highway. There is talk of ten pick-up/drop-off points and a bus stop. The current waiting area may be replaced by greenspace. They may erect a new administration building, with an improved waiting lounge and washrooms.
The parking lot configuration will also change, and have an improved entrance from the Island Highway.
BC Ferries will be holding community drop-in sessions at:
- Quadra Island Community Centre from 4 to 7 PM on Tues, Feb 4, 2020.
- Coast Discovery Inn, Campbell River from 3 to 6 PM on Wed, Feb 5, 2020.
Top photo credit: Artists Rendering of Rendering of next four Island Class hybrid electric ferries – Courtesy BC Ferries news release.