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

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

How the provincial budget will play out in northwestern B.C.

Price of gasoline to rise and expect MSP premiums to disppear

Snow bikers have a lucky escape on Claque Mountain

Their experience highlights the importance of being properly prepared in the backcountry

Access to naloxone kits made easier

They’re now available from pharmacies

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

VIDEO: What you need to know today at the B.C. Games

All 19 events are underway across Kamloops, where five to 10 cm of snow is expected to fall

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Mills Memorial Hospital financing formula released

Regional taxpayers to pay $113.7 million for new facility.

Hundreds march for justice in death of Winnipeg teen

Tina Fontaine was pulled from a river in 2014, her body wrapped in a blanket and weighed down by rocks

Maritimes want their own CFL team

Their biggest hurdle is getting a stadium commitment in place

Sask. school shooter to be sentenced as adult

The man was just shy of his 18th birthday when he killed four people and injured seven others

Internet questions PM’s fashion choices in India

The Trudeaus’ eight-day visit has been dogged by various controversies since it began Feb. 17

Adopted potbelly pig killed and eaten on Vancouver Island

Animal had been adopted out from the SPCA in Duncan; staff are devastated by news

Most Read