An iconic and long-standing Vancouver Island ferry service has been saved at the eleventh hour after owners announced they would go out of business by the end of the month.
Lady Rose Marine Services, which transports services, tourists and goods on the west coast of Vancouver Island, announced earlier this month that it would shut down on Aug. 31 after becoming a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But on Tuesday, Devon Transport Ltd. announced that it had struck a deal in principle to purchase the company and ensure the continuity of ferry service between Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound.
“This deal arrives just in time to save this much-relied upon transport lifeline for the area,” Devon Transport Ltd. said in a statement.
The company met with current owners Mike and Pauline Surrell last week to discuss purchasing Lady Rose Marine Service, saying the service was “far too valuable to the region” and crucial to the communities it serves to go under.
Devon Transport already operates Budget Rent a Car & Truck and Budget Self-Storage in Port Alberni.
“My wife Pauline and myself could not be happier with the sale of the Lady Rose Marine. We fully understand the ramifications of this ship stopping service and the impact it would make in Port Alberni and the Barkley Sound,” current owner Mike Surrell said.
“We are proud to be able to continue helping the new owners in making this company the success it was pre-COVID.”
The ferry sails to remote Barkley Sound communities, including the Huu-ay-aht village of Anacla, three times a week.
Lady Rose Marine Services has been in business since 1937.