Ashley Scotthorne said she is shocked by the unreliability of the MV Kuper, the ferry that runs between Chemainus and Thetis and Penelakut islands.
Scotthorne, a business owner who lives in Langford but bought a residence on Thetis Island in January, said she was appalled when, while waiting to make the ferry crossing on Aug. 13, the MV Kuper broke down and the waiting passengers were told it would be out of service for three days as it was repaired.
She said BC Ferries did provide a water taxi to transport the passengers, but it was a great inconvenience for everybody.
“This was during a heat wave and there were people with babies, First Nation elders and people in wheelchairs who had to deal with the difficult task of getting in and out of the water taxi,” Scotthorne said.
“The ferry has been breaking down a lot lately [with the latest breakdown on Aug. 4], and is consistently late. This is the main transportation for many people to and from their homes and we need a decent ferry here. It’s like we’re living in a third-world country. If they shut down the ferry to Salt Spring Island for three days, the people there would have went wild. People need to know about this.”
Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs at BC Ferries, said that on Aug. 4, a log got stuck in the propeller of the MV Kuper.
“Unfortunately in a marine environment, there are logs and other debris in the water and log strikes do happen from time to time,” she said.
“We provided free water taxi for about 24 hours while engineers rectified the situation. In the afternoon of Aug. 13, there was an issue with one of the main engines of the ferry which required replacement. The main engine replacement and other mechanical issues meant the vessel was out of service for the better part of three days. Free water taxi service was provided during this time.”
Marshall said BC Ferries apologizes to its customers for these service interruptions.
“But when you look at our vessel reliability statistics from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, we cancelled just four sailings over the course of the fiscal year on this run due to mechanical difficulties,” she said.
On a typical day, the ferry is scheduled to make about five round trips between Chemainus and the islands.