B.C. Ferries says a new direct service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola will be delayed nearly two more months because of an unknown timeline to complete work on the vessel which was acquired to sail the route.
In a release, the corporation says the introductory route was intended to start June 19 and was delayed to July 20, but now September 16 is the starting date for service.
B.C. Ferries says it is unknown when refit work will be completed on the Northern Sea Wolf, which was purchased after the direct seasonal route between Port Hardy and Bella Coola was announced by the province in 2016.
In its place, the MV Northern Adventure will be redeployed for two round-trip sailings per week, but September 16 is the earliest the vessel can be made available.
The Northern Adventure has an 87 vehicle capacity and will handle the direct trip until Oct. 11.
“We want to sincerely apologize to our customers and communities affected by this delay, and explain what we are doing to ensure we have a safe and reliable vessel,” B.C. Ferries said in the release.
The company said the overall volume of work, material challenges and final testing and acceptance for the Northern Sea Wolf could not be safely accomplished “with a high degree of certainty” for the summer season schedule.
Routes will continue between Port Hardy and Bella Bella from July 20 to September 15, along with the Bella Bella to Bella Coola route.
B.C. Ferries says travel plans will be updated for customers with reservations on the direct route between Port Hardy and Bella Coola from July 20 to September 15 by either changing those plans with the indirect service via Bella Bella or cancel the reservation with a full refund.
The corporation says space is limited to the indirect service and all travellers may not be accommodated.