Ferry service between Sidney and Washington State will stay anchored until 2030.
Washington State Ferries doesn’t expect service on the international Sidney-Anacortes route to resume for another seven years, the Town of Sidney announced Tuesday.
“This is difficult news to receive,” said Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith in a news release. “There are certainly economic impacts for our local business community, which thankfully has shown remarkable resilience in adapting to the changing realities since 2020.”
Sailings on the route were halted nearly three years ago when a ban on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States came into effect due to COVID-19.
Flash forward to today and the service has yet to return amid a shortage of qualified crew and the retirement of several vessels, according to the town.
Another seven years, however, is much later than initially anticipated for the ferry operator.
“We hope to get back to Canada, but that is not going to happen this year,” Ian Sterling, director of communications with Washington State Ferries, told CHEK News in a June 2022 interview.
“Hopefully, maybe, for (summer 2023),” he said at the time, noting that the company was doing “aggressive” recruitment and things appeared to be improving, albeit slowly.
“These aren’t jobs that you can just hire anyone off the street to do, and so there is a little of delay of when you hire somebody to how much training and certification they need to get back out on a boat,” Sterling said last year.
On Tuesday, the town highlighted the ferry route’s “historical significance,” saying it began on a converted kelp carrier at the foot of Beacon Avenue in 1922.
“The ferry service grew into a source of tourism for Sidney and the South Island region, and also an important connection between friends and families across the Canada-U.S. border,” it said.
Washington State Ferries, which is a part of the Washington State Department of Transportation, provides ferry services through a lease and operating agreement that extends through 2031.
“At this time, council and town staff are turning our attention to the existing ferry terminal lease and the implications associated with this recent announcement,” added McNeil-Smith.
-With files from Nicholas Pescod, CHEK News
The Town of Sidney has just recently learned that due to a vessel shortage, Washington State Ferries does not expect to be able to resume ferry service between Sidney and Anacortes until 2030. Learn more here: https://t.co/FVUnWAV0XN pic.twitter.com/cSjOLNvd7I
— Town of Sidney (@townofsidneybc) February 28, 2023