MV Nimpkish has served the run from Bella Bella to Bella Coola during tourist season since 2014.

Central Coast ferry service to be upgraded

New vessel would replace MV Nimpkish on Bella Bella-Bella Coola run, provide 'high end' service to Great Bear Rainforest

BC Ferries plans to upgrade its seasonal Port Hardy-to-Bella Coola service in 2018, as part of a push to promote tourism to B.C.’s Central Coast.

The weekly summer run from Vancouver Island to the region now known as the Great Bear Rainforest was cancelled in 2014, when the Queen of Chilliwack was retired. It was replaced with stops in Bella Bella by the two North Coast ferries. The smaller, open-decked MV Nimpkish, running four times a week from Bella Bella to Bella Coola, was added, a change that provoked an uproar among tourism operators.

Tourism businesses promote a circle route from Vancouver Island to Bella Coola, inland to Williams Lake and back to Vancouver. They said the bare-bones vessel was too small and inadequate for the long sailing.

Premier Christy Clark announced the change in Vancouver Tuesday, on the eve of the B.C. government’s annual meeting with aboriginal leaders from around the province.

BC Ferries is looking for a new vessel that will provide a “high-end” service that will appeal to European tourists with the right capacity for the route, Clark said.

“We want to have it up and running for the 2018 summer tourism season, so to all the aboriginal and non-aboriginal businesses on the coast, get out there and start selling your tickets, because we know you start doing that in advance,” Clark said.

Bella Bella is among the stops planned by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visit B.C. later this month, in what the B.C. government hopes will be a major boost to international awareness of the Central Coast as a destination.

Chief Wally Weber of the Nuxalk community in Bella Coola said his community plans a $1.5 million restaurant and 10 mini-longhouses for vacation rentals along the Bella Coola River.

The Queen of Chilliwack took as long as 20 hours to make the sailing, which included a stop in Bella Bella on some runs. It was losing an estimate $7 million a year as the ship sailed far below capacity.

Bella Bella was added as a stop on the longer Inside Passage route from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert when the Nimpkish was put on the run to Bella Coola.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Campers packing after one night at Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Oak Bay Police Department serves invoice for damages in fall 2017 encampment

PHOTOS: Cannabis consumption in the provincial capital

Victoria pot shops respond to the national legalization of marijuana

UPDATED: Early morning crash on Sooke Road causes traffic delays

The road has now been cleared of two incidents from Thursday morning

Homeless campers of Namegans Nation head to Oak Bay

Roughly 30 members of roving tent city settle at Cattle Point in Uplands Wednesday

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Money Monitor: Should you switch to a fixed-rate mortgage?

BMO’s Omar Abouzaher outlines the pros and cons of both types of mortgages

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Earth still moving in Old Fort, B.C., but not above homes: geologists

Transportation Ministry crews are ready to start work on the Old Fort road

Around the BCHL: Youth trumps experience for Chilliwack and Salmon Arm

Around the BCHL is a look at goings-on in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Aquaman star spotted around Campbell River as production ramps up on See

Jason Momoa, best known for his role in Game of Thrones, is in town to film television series

Chain reaction crash on Vancouver Island leads to boat hitting house

Alcohol and speed may have been a factor in Courtenay crash

Proportional representation grows government, B.C. study finds

Spending, deficits higher in countries where voting system used

Most Read