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Ferry upgrades will help with wheelchair access, strollers
The Bowen Island Municipality Transportation Advisory Committee (BIMTAC) meets twice a year, with senior officials from BC Ferries (BCF). We met last week, and there were a number of positive outcomes.
The Queen of Capilano will go in for an extended five-month refit (the mid-life upgrade, or MLU) in early 2015. BIMTAC has been working with BCF about both the issue of a replacement vessel (or vessels) and the work to be done on the Capilano. BCF have agreed that car carrying capacity will not be reduced during the MLU. BIMTAC will be presented with an analysis of options by the end of November.
The major construction item of interest to passengers will be provision for direct boarding at HSB on to the lounge deck for all foot passengers, including those in wheelchairs, baby carriages, etc. by cutting a new entry port into the vessel on the lounge deck. No more boarding at HSB on the sundeck! We will still have to get off from the car deck at Snug Cove, but the possibility will exist for second deck loading if and when BCF rebuilds the Snug Cove terminal.
Although various upgrades will be made on the car deck to rationalize the use of space these are unlikely lead to an increase in car capacity. Conversion of the vessel’s engines to liquid natural gas (LNG) fuel is definitely off the table.
A representative from the Caring Circle, Coleen O’Neil, accompanied us to discuss the question of assured loading for severely ill Bowen patients. BCF has a procedure in place for assisting patients at Horseshoe Bay (HSB) coming home to Bowen, but no equivalent procedure exists on Bowen. We agreed that BIMTAC, the Caring Circle and BCF will work on developing a system that will work at Snug Cove.
On the subject of asphalt trucking overloads, BCF admitted that the Capilano could have carried more vehicles on the day of the first asphalt truck-related overloads. There is a practical limit by weight of four heavy (asphalt) trucks plus pup trailers (60 T gross vehicle weight each) per sailing, but the Capilano’s loaded depth gauge was giving faulty readings on the total loaded weight on that sailing. In the future BCF will try to post expected heavy traffic warnings in their service notices if they get information from contractors.
We also hope to come up with an official "Bowen" tag for cars of residents to facilitate loading particularly during busy periods.
As the MLU progresses, we will keep everyone informed.
Chair, Bowen Island Municipality Transportation Advisory Committee