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More BC Ferries trouble: Another vessel docked as Coastal Celebration returns to service


The Coastal Celebration was back ferrying passengers between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay on Friday, after being out of commission for nine days – but another BC Ferries vessel had to be docked due to mechanical issues.

The unspecified engine problem on the Coastal Renaissance forced the cancellation of the 3:15 p.m. departure from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo, according to a notice on the company's website. It was unclear as of Friday afternoon if the issues would impact any of the vessel's other scheduled sailings.

Before returning to service, the Coastal Celebration spent a week at a North Vancouver dry dock undergoing repairs for an oil leak in a propeller.

“It takes lot of time to take these pieces of very heavy equipment apart safely to check what the problem is and to then reassemble them,” said Stephen Jones, BC Ferries' executive director of engineering.

While the propeller was being fixed, BC Ferries' busiest route had eight fewer scheduled sailings per day in the middle of the summer travel season, which caused delays.

“They carry a lot of cars, they carry a lot of people. So when one ferry goes, down particularly at the weekend when we are seeing incredible levels of demand, it has a knock on effect throughout the system,” said Jones.

BC Ferries is hopeful that its entire fleet will be fully operational heading into the August long weekend, but not everyone is convinced.

BC United leader Kevin Falcon is worried there will be technical issues and delays, like there were on the Canada Day long weekend when the Coastal Celebration broke down.

“I’m sorry to say I don’t have that confidence, and I couldn’t honestly tell the public to have that confidence,” said Falcon, who blames the recent woes at BC Ferries on poor leadership.

“They appointed Joy McPhail a former NDP MLA, who was one of the architects of the fast ferries, as chair of the board. She then fired the president costing a million dollars in severance, and then installed a president that would take political direction. And this is a not a good thing, and we are seeing the results,” said Falcon.

He thinks the company needs a new board chair and a new president.

“I think what’s important with the ferry system is it be independent of government, that it be well managed and overseen by professionals who know what they’re doing, and keep the politicians out of it,” Falcon said.

Jones knows people are worried about long weekend delays, and says staff are determined not to have a repeat of the Canada Day chaos.

“We will be doing everything we can to make sure everything runs smoothly,” he said. “Obviously there is no such thing as a cast iron guarantee. But we have very good reliability on these ships, and we will do whatever we can to ensure we have a quiet weekend.” Top Stories

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