BC Ferries adds water taxi sailing to their Haida Gwaii schedule to accommodate flight passengers

BC Ferries is adding an evening water taxi sailing to the temporary Alliford Bay (Moresby Island) to Skidegate (Graham Island) schedule in order to accommodate passengers arriving in Sandspit on Air Canada flights.

The additional water taxi sailing will run from Nov. 2 to 23 while the regular ferry for the route, the M.V. Kwuna, is being retrofitted.

The announcement came after an unfortunate pairing of two changes left many Air Canada passengers that were flying into Sandspit stranded overnight in the small community.

The first change was from BC Ferries. Typically the M.V. Kwuna is used to ferry passengers between Alliford Bay and Skidegate, so they can get to most of the other communities on Haida Gwaii. However, from Sept. 20 to Nov. 23, the M.V. Kwuna is being retrofitted and temporarily out of service. In the meantime, BC Ferries is using a tug and barge to transport people between the two islands, with a last sailing of 6 p.m., earlier than the regular schedule.

This caused issues when Air Canada simultaneously changed their flight schedule so that planes were landing in Sandspit after 6 p.m.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice wrote an open letter to Air Canada urging the airline to reconsider the new schedule.

“Having passengers essentially stuck in Sandspit until the next day when the ferry resumes is an impractical challenge given the limited accommodation as well as the added expense for the majority of Haida Gwaii citizens,” the letter stated.

In an email to the Haida Gwaii Observer, Air Canada stated that they “understand the schedule concerns expressed by community stakeholders and are actively engaged with the community on the matter.”

However, as of Nov. 1 they have not changed their flight times.

While the water taxi will help passengers get to Graham Island, it is a passenger-only boat, which means they will still need a way to get from the Sandspit airport to the ferry terminal, 14.5 kilometres away.

BC Ferries told the Haida Gwaii Observer they will not be operating a shuttle between the airport and the ferry terminal.

Similarly, Air Canada wrote that they do not have plans to operate a shuttle service but “ground transportation matters are being discussed with various community partners.”

Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View