BC Ferries gets bid on aging vessel, but critics argue it shouldn’t be sold
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2017 6:53PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 16, 2017 9:16PM PST
BC Ferries has received a bid of $25,000 over asking price on a nearly retired 52-year-old vessel that went up for auction in December.
The 130-metre-long Queen of Burnaby, which has serviced the Comox-Powell River run for several years, appears to have been sold for $425,000.
The diesel-powered ferry can carry more than 900 passengers and comes complete with cafeterias, a gift shop and a kids’ play centre.
It was the first time the company tried selling one of its vessels through an online auction, and even though it received a bid, it’s not yet known who they are or if they’ll qualify as a buyer.
“We do need to evaluate that bid and after that, if it’s not a viable bid then what we would do is issue an expression of interest,” said BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall. “There is quite a limited market for a used vessel of this age, so no, we weren’t surprised that there weren’t a whole bunch of bids.”
The NDP’s critic for BC Ferries says the sale price of $425,000 is still too low.
“At least we know what the cost was and how much it sold for. We still don’t know how much the Chilliwack went for, when we had more than $15-million of public money going into refurbishing of it,” said Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island.
Trevena believes even though the vessel was built in 1965, it should still be maintained as a backup vessel for when newer ferries break down or are pulled for maintenance.
“If BC Ferries is designing its system without any backups in place, that is completely neglecting the needs of people who live in ferry-dependent communities,” she said.
The company said the Queen of Burnaby has outlived its lifespan and would be too expensive to keep as a spare.
Suggestions on what to do with the vessel have poured in online, with some saying it should be used to start a cheaper ferry service, turned into a restaurant or floating night club, used as low-barrier housing or sunk it as an artificial reef.
A handful of former vessels have also found new life in Fiji where they’re now operated by a former BC Ferries employee.
The purchaser of the Queen of Burnaby will have to wait until the new Salish Orca vessel replaces it sometime this spring.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Gord Kurbis