Northern Sea Wolf restores Port Hardy-Bella Coola ferry service

Direct seasonal ferry service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola was reinstated Monday now that the Northern Sea Wolf is in full service.

“The arrival of the Northern Sea Wolf is wonderful news for local people, Indigenous communities, small businesses and tourism operators who depend on this popular route,” B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in a statement.

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The 246-foot-long vessel is to provide a direct link between northern Vancouver Island and B.C.’s Central Coast until Oct. 10.

It can carry up to 150 passengers and 35 vehicles on its 10-hour journey.

The service is seen by the Cariboo-Chilcotin tourism industry as necessary for its success. Tourism operators spoke out when the previous B.C. Liberal government decided to axe it.

Tourism operators said they rely on that service to provide visitors. They said their region lost millions of dollars in revenue annually as a result of the route being cancelled.

B.C. reversed the decision and in 2017 B.C. Ferries bought a Greek ferry to use on that run.

But the vessel needed more work than initially expected and entered service only on its winter connector schedule last month.

The original budget of $55.7 million rose to $76 million. A federal contribution shaved the cost to $61 million. State-of-the-art technology has been installed in the vessel. Improvements include a new galley, bridge, electrical generators and cafeteria.

— Times Colonist

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