FAC Opts for Restoration of Early Sailings

As most of you  are aware, the provincial government recently agreed to fund restoration of some of the sailings lost in 2014 on some routes. On the Gabriola-Nanaimo route we were first offered just one choice—the restoration of early morning sailings. The FAC requested the alternative of restoring sailings in the mid-evening gap, and then Gabriolans were asked to choose between the two options. The vote was almost exactly evenly split, and so the final decision has had to be made by FAC members, knowing that just about half of Gabriolans would not get what they wanted. In the meantime, we realized that the early morning option did not guarantee getting onto the first sailing out of Departure Bay, made it difficult for people starting a 7 AM shift in Nanaimo and was sufficiently tight to create a high risk of getting behind schedule early in the day. We asked BC Ferries three times to make some changes, and they finally agreed to have the first two sailings of the AM option leave 10 minutes earlier than first proposed.

The 10 members of the FAC have now agreed (by a margin of 9 to 1) that the best option for Gabriola is to restore the early sailings. However this was a very difficult decision and the FAC takes the feedback we received from the community about the mid-evening gap very seriously. We will make it a top priority to work with BC Ferries to make changes to the evening schedule so that the gap between the 19:15 and 21:00 departures from Nanaimo can be reduced. We believe that slight alterations to the schedule could improve on-time performance and simultaneously provide better service for those who expressed such clear disappointment with the evening gap. We will also work to ensure that that the evening gap is eliminated when the schedule is revised for the two new Island 47 ferries and will advocate for changes to be made to the weekend schedules so that they match the new weekday schedules.

The revised schedule is expected to come into effect on April 27th. As of that date the two mid-afternoon weekend sailings (13:50 and 14:25) will also be restored throughout the year.

Revised Schedule effective April 27/19

Have Your Say – Options for Restoring Service on the Gabriola-Nanaimo Ferry Route

As directed by the provincial government, BC Ferries is restoring some of the service that was cut from minor routes in 2014. On the Gabriola-Nanaimo route this will include restoration of all of the mid-afternoon weekend sailings–year-round. It will also include restoration of a single additional round-trip on weekdays, according to one of the following options:
Service Options
Option 1 Restoration of the early morning sailing on weekdays, leaving Gabriola at 5:25 am and Nanaimo at 5:55 am (shown in red). That 5:25 am departure should allow Gabriolans to make it to Departure Bay in time for the 6:15 am sailing to Vancouver. With this option most of the rest of the sailing times will be the same as what we have now.

Option 2 Restoration of the mid-evening sailings on weekdays. This involves some juggling of the schedule starting in the middle of the afternoon (although the 3:45, 5:00 and 6:10 pm sailings from Nanaimo would not change). It also means that the last sailing of the day on weekdays would be 11:30 pm from Nanaimo (compared with 11:00 pm now). The weekends would stay very close to what we have now.

The FAC has created an on-line survey so that Gabriolans can let us know which of these options they prefer. We urge respondents to consider not just your personal preference but also what you believe is in the best interests of the whole community. We’re hoping for a strong response to the survey and a clear preference for one of the two options. If the result is close to 50:50, then the FAC will have to consider all the information we have and make a decision that we feel is in the best interest of all Gabriolans. Whichever choice is made, it is expected that the changes will take effect on or before May 1st. It’s important to remember that we are going to have 2 ferries operating on this route within about 3 years, and that the schedule will change again at that time.

The survey is available here. Printed copies of the survey are also available in the library. Please take the time to let us know what you think. BC Ferries wants to implement the new schedule as soon as possible, so time is of the essence. The survey will close at midnight on Wednesday, March 27 (printed copies must be received at the Gabriola Library by 7pm Wednesday, March 27).

Way to Go, Gabriola!

New Ferry Cam fundraiser update just in:

Good news! The Lunch Bunch has recently received many e-transfer donations. This along with the anticipated February proceeds from Village Foods Community Card Program means that The Lunch Bunch will achieve its $3,000 goal.

The Lunch Bunch VF Community Card program will remain open until February 28th. This is so all the Lunch Bunch members, their wives, and friends have time to top up their cards one last time for us. If you wish, you can still contribute by buying a $100 Lunch Bunch VF Community Card. You get $100 in groceries and the Lunch Bunch fund raiser gets $5 from VF. For the rest of the year, The Lunch Bunch encourages everybody who has helped us achieve our goal so quickly through donations and VF to choose one of the other four 2019 VF card fundraisers and keep topping up your cards. The new cameras are coming soon!

Thanks to all who donated, and special thanks to Village Foods for their Community Card program – what an easy (and tasty) way to give back to our community. Remember there are still four great organizations that need your support.

Ferry Services Being Restored

You may have already heard that yesterday the NDP government announced that they are increasing service on 10 ferry routes that were cut in 2014, restoring 2,700 round-trip sailings for people living in coastal communities. Route 19 (the Gabriola-Nanaimo route) is among those routes slated to have our service levels restored.

In addition to the news about the service cuts, the Ministry released Blair Redlin’s report on the ferry service. The Redlin report (available here) is a fairly comprehensive document that goes well beyond consideration of service levels. For example, there is a great deal of focus on climate change adaptation vis a vis propulsion systems, and the issue of ships not being built domestically also comes in for a lot of scrutiny. It’s well worth a read.

We look forward to bringing you more information in the coming weeks of what implementation could actually look like.

Ferry Camera Fundraiser Update

This just in, from the Lunch Bunch:

The awesome news is that in only 5 weeks The Lunch Bunch is only $530 short of our $3,000 goal. This includes all cash donations and January’s $340 from Village Foods Community Card Program. VF only provides a new total at the end of each month, so we are asking you to top up your Card or buy 1 before February 28th. This costs you nothing as you get your full $100 back in groceries and VF donates $5. If everybody who already has a card does that plus a few more new cards we will achieve our $3,000 goal and we can close our VF Card fund raiser on March 1st. I am still accepting e-transfer cash donations through “robongabriola@shaw.ca”.

The other good news is that camera #2 will be replaced on the Skol Pub roof, weather permitting, this Sunday.

The Lunch Bunch thanks you all for your generous support and words of appreciation for our Gabriola’s ferry line-up web page.

Excellent work Gabriola! Let’s get ‘er done!

BC Ferries Public Information Session

On Tuesday, February 19, 2019 from 3-6pm at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre, (GAC Hall) BC Ferries is holding a Public Information Session. descansobaylotAmendments to the text and maps of the Gabriola Official Community Plan and Land Use Bylaw are required to allow the long-term implementation of a new Terminal Development Plan for marine infrastructure and upland areas at the Descanso Bay Terminal. The purpose of the info session is to describe the proposals and hear from the community before making an application to the Islands Trust.

For more information, visit https://www.bcferries.com/about/publicconsultation2/terminal-development-planning/gabriola.html.

And don’t forget about our last post: The FerryCam Needs you!

The FerryCam Needs You

The FerryCam has served our community well for many years. The brainchild of several Gabriola gentlemen who call themselves the “Lunch Bunch”, it was established with the aim of giving back to the island in a meaningful way. Until now the system has been financed and maintained by the Lunch Bunch with the support of a few local businesses, but times have changed, the system has evolved, and the Lunch Bunch needs your help.

How Can You Help?

The Lunch Bunch needs funds to replace equipment and make the system more reliable. There are two ways to participate:

The Village Foods Card Program – For each $100 Card you purchase, Village Foods will donate $5 towards the FerryCam system.  Simply keep topping up your card until the Lunch Bunch reaches their $3,000 goal.  It costs you nothing.

Make a Direct Donation – The Card program is great but it could take up to a year to achieve the $3,000 goal. Ideally, the Lunch Bunch would like to install the new cameras this spring, in advance of the peak ferry usage season. Village Foods will only issue one cheque once the goal has been reached, or once the Lunch Bunch informs them that they have enough funding. After the funding goal is achieved, cameras need to be ordered and installed which takes more time. The only way that an upgraded system can be in place by summer is through direct donations.  For each direct donation, no matter how small, the Lunch Bunch will reduce the $3,000 Card Program funding goal.

How to Make a Donation -There are many ways. Here’s what the Lunch Bunch suggests:

You can send an E-Transfer to robongabriola@shaw.ca (I suggest “ferrycameras” as a password or e-mail me, your PW choice separately), or mail a cheque to Rob Maynard, PO Box 124, Gabriola, B.C. V0R 1X0. Write Ferry Cameras donation in the memo line. Or I’ll take cash or a check in person –  you can just bring your donation to 751 Lockinvar Lane.  Sorry, we can’t issue tax receipts. For more information call Rob Maynard at 250-247-7278.

All funding received goes toward the capital cost of 2 cameras as the Lunch Bunch and its existing business supporters will continue to pay all operating costs.

For those interested in the nitty gritty, here’s the full explanation from the Lunch Bunch as to why the upgrades are needed:

In 2018, we added a new and better camera aimed at the Ferry Ramp.  The 11-year old camera which was replaced became the backup in case any of the 3 operational cameras failed and needed to be sent out for repair. But then 4 reserved spots were added at the front of the lineup and the Ramp camera no longer showed the cars that could not get on ferry.  So, to see these cars we installed our backup camera on the roof of the Skol Pub.  Unfortunately in low light the picture goes black; this also makes it useless as a backup camera. Camera #2 failed over the Christmas Holidays and it took several days to get it working. Having to climb a tree or go up on the slippery metal Skol Pub roof in winter is dangerous.  The system needs to be reliable.  This is why the Lunch Bunch is asking for your financial support to buy 2 cameras at a cost of $3,000.  Questions? Contact Rob Maynard 250-247-7278.

**Please note that while the Gabriola FAC deeply appreciates and enthusiastically supports the activities of the Lunch Bunch we are not financially affiliated in any way.



BC Ferry Commission Approves the Purchase of New Ferries for Gabriola, Quadra, and the Southern Gulf Islands

In a few years anyone who wants to ride the Quinsam will have to head to Salt Spring. The BC Ferry Commissioner has approved BC Ferries’ application for four new Island Class vessels and one new Salish Class vessel. Two of the Island Class vessels are earmarked for the Gabriola/Nanaimo route, the other two will serve the Quadra/Campbell River route, and the Salish Class Vessel will replace the Mayne Queen on its multi-island route in the Southern Gulf Islands. The Quinsam will be redeployed to the Crofton-Vesuvius route.

The following excerpt is of particular interest:

After receiving clarifications from BC Ferries, the commissioner is confident that the potential impact of the preferred option on future price caps will be offset by efficiency gains from fleet standardization and the eventual conversion to all-electric propulsion for the Island class vessels. The commissioner will take this into account when setting price caps for future performance terms. Accordingly, the commissioner has determined that the preferred option should not, in itself, drive future price caps significantly above the rate of inflation and is therefore affordable to ferry users and taxpayers.

The commissioner has noted that in its Application, BC Ferries has not stated their intentions regarding the potential conversion to all-electric propulsion for the four new Island class vessels other than providing extra battery space in the construction of the vessels. Given the trend towards all-electric ferries in Northern Europe and elsewhere BC Ferries should soon state their expectations and intentions regarding the potential conversion to all-electric propulsion for the Island class vessels to be deployed on routes 23 and 19.

For these reasons the commissioner finds the preferred option to be prudent because it demonstrates good judgment by proposing replacement vessels with hybrid propulsion.

To download the full report click here: http://www.bcferrycommission.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FC-Order-19-02-and-Findings-and-Determinations.pdf.

Tell Us a Ferry Tale

The FAC needs your help. We are preparing  a “Significant Service Request” to ask BC Ferries to reinstate mid-afternoon sailings year round. Since adding these sailings back into the schedule would mean that BC Ferries would be delivering a higher level of service than they are contracted to provide by the Province, we need to make our argument compelling. We have the data, but we need to hear from you. Please send us your stories of how these missing sailings have impacted you and/or your family or business. Ideally we are looking for short quotes that will illustrate the negative social and economic consequences of maintaining the schedule as it stands.

Please email your submissions to gabriola.fac@gmail.com. If you prefer to provide your submission in writing, you can drop it off at the Gabriola Library. We look forward to hearing from you!

BC Ferries Seeks Permission to Contract New Vessels

As part of their contract with the Province, BC Ferries must apply to the Ferry Commissioner for approval of major expenditures. BC Ferries has now submitted an application for four new Island Class vessels and one new Salish Class vessel. Two of the Island Class vessels are earmarked for the Gabriola/Nanaimo route to provide a much-needed increase in capacity.

The Ferry Commissioner has posted the application on their website, along with a notice inviting public comment. Deadline for public comments is November 30, 2018. Please consider taking a moment to let the Ferry Commissioner know what you think.