Work to repair a damaged trestle on the Nanaimo side of the B.C. Ferries Gabriola route will take until at least the end of August to repair.
Foot passengers have had to board a replacement water taxi at F dock at the Nanaimo Boat Basin and vehicle traffic has been rerouted to Duke Point after a paving truck accidentally drove on to the terminal’s passenger walkway Friday, collapsing the trestle.
The truck plummeted four metres into the harbour, landing upside down. Nobody was seriously hurt in the accident. The asphalt onboard has since been reclaimed and an assessment showed no environmental damage, according to B.C. Ferries. The truck was pulled out by a crane on Saturday.
“We’ve done a structural assessment of the damage to the dock and it is anticipated the work to repair and reinforce the existing structure will take us through to Aug. 31,” said Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman. “So that means being back in service, we anticipate, on Sept. 1 with a regular schedule.”
Marshall said the contingency services are working well so far but that B.C. Ferries will have a better idea of what adjustments to make once more time passes.
“There has been a strong demand for the water taxi and we could add more runs if we start to leave a significant amount of people behind,” she said.
The water taxi can carry 45 people per sailing and takes 18 to 20 minutes to make the trip, about six minutes faster than the MV Quinsam on its regular route between Descanso Bay and downtown Nanaimo. Marshall added both contingency routes are running on their regular route schedules.
The timing of the mishap couldn’t be worse for the Gabriola arts community, which hosts its annual theatre festival this weekend.
Carol Ramsay, spokeswoman for the Gabriola Chamber of Commerce, said this weekend is one of the biggest of the summer for the island community and hopes the back-up ferry services will be adequate.
“We have our three-day theatre festival and at this point we have no idea how it will play out. I’m concerned and I know others are concerned,” she said. “We’re letting [B.C. Ferries[ know in hopes that they’ll understand. This weekend is huge for us, not only do we have a farmers’ market but we also have two full days of outdoor entertainment.”
Ramsay added that the water taxi service is proving to be difficult for elderly and disabled passengers who have to buy their tickets at the Nanaimo harbour terminal then walk down to catch the boat at the public wharf.
“For a couple of days it was OK, but for weeks it becomes an issue because you can only put off going to Nanaimo for so long,” she said. “At this point it’s kind of becoming serious. With that said, we understand that this is not B.C. Ferries’ fault.”
B.C. Ferries is advising its neighbours in the Nanaimo harbour area that noise can be expected between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. from today (Aug. 17) to Aug. 22 as new pilings to reinforce the trestle are installed.
Further updates can be found at www.bcferries.com or by calling 1-888-223-3779.