Mike Surrell of Lady Rose Marine Services purchased the MV Tenaka from BC Ferries last year to add to his fleet. (Alberni Valley News - Photo)

Ucluelet mayor says highway closure shows need for car ferry between Port Alberni and West Coast

“Things like yesterday happen and it plugs up the whole system.”

Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques believes the current highway closure between the Tofino-Ucluelet junction and Port Alberni illustrates the need for a car ferry service.

Vancouver Island’s West Coast communities, including Tofino and Ucluelet, are currently cut off from the rest of the Island as responders deal with a jet fuel spill caused by a flipped fuel truck on Highway 4 near Hydro Hill.

“If any good was to come out of it, it’s certainly highlighting the need and pushing forward the whole ferry idea and the reality of it is probably going to come to us sooner than we thought,” St. Jacques told the Westerly News.

“There’s no question that the awful incident that’s happened out there yesterday will show the folks outside of our region the need that we have for that transportation link to be able to get vehicles back and forth.”

Ucluelet’s municipal council is supporting a bid by Mike Surrell of Lady Rose Marine to operate a car ferry between Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Bamfield.

Surrell purchased the MV Tenaka from BC Ferries last year and told the Westerly News on Friday that he remains in negotiations with the Ministry of Transportation to use the vessel as a car ferry service from Port Alberni to Ucluelet and Bamfield. He said the vessel could fit about 30 cars per trip.

“It needs to have the blessing from the government,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting all our ducks in a row, getting agreements between everybody and putting everything together.”

He said, if everything comes together smoothly, he plans to purchase a second vessel in order to have two that would be transporting passengers and vehicles between the communities.

“We are looking to purchase a second car ferry if this goes into effect,” he said.

He added Highway 4’s closure over the past two days has his phone ringing off the hook for passage.

“Things like yesterday happen and it plugs up the whole system,” he said. “We’ve had literally hundreds of calls for car service today.”

If the government’s blessing is granted, Surrell said it would likely take “a year to two years,” to put the necessary infrastructure in place, including car service ramps at each location.

Along with providing an additional transportation option for locals, Surrell suggested the service would be a big win for the West Coast’s tourism economy.

“It would be a phenomenal adventure for everybody,” he said. “I think it would dramatically increase the tourism of Ucluelet…For winter time as well, when the roads are icy and wet, it could also help out the local community.”

ucluelet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: 24-hour closure coming to Tofino-Ucluelet highway this weekend

Hwy. 4 at Kennedy Hill will be shut down from 11 a.m. Feb. 22 to at 11 a.m. Feb. 23.

Ucluelet resident sounds alarm over ‘environmental disaster’

Central Westcoast Forest Society estimates bridge project at Hyphocus Island could cost $1M.

Senior A Basketball: Maaqtusiis senior teams take on the Island Championships

Senior girls play at Duncan Christian and senior boys at Nanaimo Christian this weekend.

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read