About BC Ferries

Gabriola Island & Quadra Island Future Service

BC Ferries' Bowen Class vessels (Bowen Queen, Mayne Queen and Powell River Queen) are nearing the end of their lifespans. While the Bowen Queen and Mayne Queen do not operate on the Campbell River – Quadra Island and Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island routes, the upcoming retirement of these vessels gives us an opportunity to address what we have heard from you about increased traffic and sailing wait times. We wanted your feedback so we could incorporate it into our vessel replacement and redeployment strategy.

We heard from over 1,400 people during our recent in person and online engagement with communities and customers. In these engagements we were asking the question:

Would you prefer one larger vessel that provides similar sailing frequency as the current service, or two smaller vessels with increased sailing frequency?

We heard a strong preference for two smaller vessels with increased sailing frequency for both the Gabriola Island and Quadra Island routes, with 73% of people indicating a two-ship preference. Of those who chose the ‘other’ category, there was a strong preference for two ships with people offering a variety of possible two-ship configurations for our consideration. In addition to service preference, we also heard four major themes related to the service as detailed below.

Gabriola and Quadra Island Infographic

View the full engagement results

Next step - Vessel procurement

Due to the strong and immediate preference we heard from our stakeholders for two-ship service, we are moving forward with procuring four 81-metre Island Class ferries, each with a capacity of 450 people and 47 vehicles. Replacing one older vessel with two new smaller vessels on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island and the Campbell River – Quadra Island routes means major increases in capacity and frequency. The passenger carrying capacity on these runs will more than double from 400 to 900 passengers per hour, while the vehicle carrying capacity will increase by approximately 60 to 94 vehicles per hour. More frequent ferry service reduces line-ups, improves safety, provides more convenience to travellers and also eliminates the need to increase the size of the terminal holding compounds.

The planned acquisition of the vessels represents a major capital expenditure which will require the approval of the BC Ferries Commissioner under Section 55 of the Coastal Ferry Act. BC Ferries will be making its application to the Commissioner soon and, subject to a favourable decision, expects awarding a contract for these ferries by the end of 2018. The competitive bidding process is open to local, national and international shipyards, including consortiums, and BC Ferries encourages local and national companies to bid on these projects. We are interested in having these vessels built in B.C., and we hope local shipyards are available to bid on this project so we can provide our customers with locally built ships. We will continue to provide you with updates on this project as they become available.

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