UPDATE: BC Ferries has resumed regular service on all routes between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
Trips to the northern Gulf Islands are cancelled for the remainder of Sunday night.
More to come.
DELTA (NEWS1130) – It’s been a day of waiting in the wind for BC Ferries passengers today.
The windstorm has forced the company to cancel sailings both directions on all three of its major routes – Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen and Departure Bay, and Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay – as well as all trips to the northern Gulf Islands.
Deb Marshall with the corporation says the sailings are suspended until further notice.
“We’re still waiting to hear about the weather,” she says. “So we are still holding.”
Environment Canada has issued wind warnings for Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley. the Sunshine Coast and the Central Coast.
The federal agency says an intense low-pressure system is approaching the coast and creating winds that are gusting up to 110 kilometres per hour.
Some shorter routes, such as Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island (Snug Cove) remain open. Others, such as Comox to Powell River, have been cancelled for the rest of the evening.
To search the complete list of cancellations click here.
Meanwhile, BC Hydro says more than 16,000 customers on Vancouver Island went without power for much of Sunday thanks to the storm.
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Passengers taking it in stride
Passengers at Tsawwassen were generally in good spirits despite the travel challenges. Most people said there’s no sense getting angry when it comes to weather cancellations.
“It’s part of island life, so we get used to it,” said Findlay Gibbons, who lives in Victoria.
“We knew coming we were chancing the weather,” added Sharon Banks from California. “We brought warm clothes, but we didn’t expect anything wrong with the ferry.”
Seating was at a premium in warm areas of the terminal.
“It would be nice to have a place to sit. That’s the only complaint,” said Beverly Van Druten-Blais, from Victoria.
Would it be worth it to built a bridge to the Island?
Simon Fraser University urban planner Gordon Price says although it would mean less frustration for BC Ferries passengers, it would be a pain to maintain. You would have to build the bridge, then expand the roads on the Island to adapt to new traffic.
That, plus the tolls would be hundreds of dollars.
“Remember, you’re in a major shipping corridor,” says Price. “You’ve got to deal with the extremes of weather, so you’re going to have to build this bridge to extraordinarily high standards, and that means lots and lots of money.”
He also expects the Island would see a drop in tourism if the ferries no longer existed, because they are part of BC culture.
“The loss of that would be something pretty emotionally devastating as well,” he says. “You’re basically just focusing your eyes ahead and you lose that sense of being on a boat, being on an ocean, going through the Gulf Islands.”
Price says the majority of complaints about the ferries don’t come from folks in Victoria – but the Lower Mainland.
-With files from The Canadian Press