Every summer, Cortes Island’s four grocery stores, and the store on Refuge Cove, lose business because of long ferry waits. Truckers do not like to transport frozen goods, when they do not know how long they will wait before boarding. Every store experiences shortages of produce, dairy, and meats. As increasing numbers of Cortes residents shop in Campbell River, the ferry waits grow even longer. At last fall’s Ferry Advisory Committee meeting, the stores asked BC Ferries to provide assured loading for commercial vehicles coming to Cortes Island. It’s not official, one commercial vehicle a day may receive priority loading.
One Commercial Vehicle A Day
“They basically said that our original proposal was too convoluted, with too many vehicles and therefore they’d have a difficult time executing it … So they asked us to tweak our proposal,” said Bill Dougan, General Manager of Gorge Harbour.
The Squirrel Cove General Store, Cortes Market, Gorge Harbour, Cortes Natural Food Co-op and the Refuge Cove Store, met on Thursday, February 13, 2020. They agreed to ask for assured loading for one vehicle a day, Monday to Friday, and also that the commercial truck be given assured loading twice a week.
“There would be only one vehicle getting onto the ferry, with assured loading, per day. For example, Bertha has her priority loading [for the Cortes Market] on Thursday, but she only picks up liqueur and has two thirds of a truck empty. So she is going to pick up product for the other stores that need product, and that is the same for us on our day and the same for Squirrel Cove etc. We are working together as a group to try to get our product over here,” says Dougan.
BC Ferries Will Be Much Happier
He added, “I spoke with Michael Lynch, who is the head of FAC for Quadra and Cortes, before I put together the new request and then after I sent it off. He indicated that BC Ferries will be much happier with that proposal than the first one.”
The official answer will come at the FAC Meeting in May, 2020.