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

OPINION: Ten signs that Port Alice has changed

“Right now, our lack of amenities is holding back economic growth in our village”

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Port McNeill council discusses ‘bear aware’ and what you can do to stay safe

Port McNeill’s Conservation Officer Brad Adams gave a presentation about being ‘bear aware’.

Port Hardy RCMP release tips to prevent fraud and theft from vehicles

In many of the incidents reported, “the vehicles that were broken into were unlocked.”

Stranded hikers rescued by helicopter on Mt. Schoen

Campbell River Search and Rescue used hoist operation to rescue trio

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

Island murder victim’s mom expresses outrage over mental fitness decision of the accused

Smith vows to keep fighting until justice served for Descoteau

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Most Read