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

Passenger counts still rising at West Kootenay Regional Airport

Reliability rates also on rise in second quarter.

Andrew Bellerby out as RDCK’s regional fire chief

Bellerby held the job since January 2016

Craft cannabis development planned for Castlegar

Plans are underway for one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.

Abra Brynne wins Kootenay-Columbia Green Party nomination

Brynne is one of three candidates who will challenge MP Wayne Stetski

Police call Appledale death a homicide

But few other details being released

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read