BC Ferries is expected to bring in two new Island class ferries to replace the current ferry between Campbell River and Quadra Island over the next couple of years.
In the fall it started contacting agencies such as the Strathcona Regional District for comment about its plans. The move would allow it to replace the Queen of Powell River, which holds 59 vehicles, with two 47-vehicle ferries from the new Island class.
BC Ferries hopes to have a contract to start work by the spring.
“We are in a tendering process right now,” spokesperson Deb Marshall told the Mirror in December.
The expanded capacity from having the two vessels should help BC Ferries with some other infrastructure matters.
“This eliminates the need to expand the terminals,” she added.
The document the SRD received in the fall noted that BC Ferries wants to build two new Island-class ferries for Route 23 between Campbell River and Quadra, as well as two ferries for Route 19 between Nanaimo and Gabriola Island. The first two vessels are expected to be ready by 2020.
On its website, BC Ferries describes the Island-class vessels as capable of carrying 47 vehicles and up to 450 passengers along with crew. They will be double-ended for easy loading and unloading and feature wide vehicle lanes, dedicated pedestrian paths and parking spaces for bicycle riders.
Lounge areas, as well as washrooms, are to be located on the main deck. There will be a variety of seating and charging stations for electronic devices, an overhead sundeck and windbreaks.
The Island class will be battery hybrid-electric vessels designed using “the most advanced” clean marine technology in the world.
“Once in service, we believe these vessels will be among the most efficient and quietest electric-hybrid ferries world-wide,” the website states.
The new vessels are part of a move to standardize the BC Ferries fleet. They are also part of a capital plan that includes a new Salish-class vessel to connect Swartz Bay with the Southern Gulf Islands. Ultimately, BC Ferries is spending $3.9 billion over 12 years to upgrade its fleet and terminals.