Relief funds on deck for BC Ferries

Horseshoe Bay businesses buzzing

BC Ferries will be in line for federal and provincial COVID-19 relief funds to help right the ferry corporation left listing by a loss of revenues.

North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson, joined by West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP Patrick Weiler and B.C. Transportation Minister Clair Trevena, announced Tuesday that the company could be eligible for the federal Safe Restart Agreement funding envelope.

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BC Ferries has lost $130 million in expected revenue thanks to COVID-19 and reduced sailings. The exact amount they will receive has not yet been determined. The province will match federal funds with its own contribution of up to $1 billion.

Ironically, fewer sailings has been good for businesses in Horseshoe Bay, said Holly Kemp, manager of Trolls Restaurant.

With the number of daily sailings out of Horseshoe Bay down by about a quarter and fewer food offerings onboard, Kemp said travellers have more time to linger in the village and buy takeout meals.

Ultimately, Kemp said the ferry system has to meet the needs of its ridership.

“They’re probably down, I would say six to eight sailings a day, which is significant when you’re trying to move the number of passengers through that they’re trying to move,” she said. “I also see that people are struggling to wait the length of time – especially if you live in Langdale and you’re a commuter. You don’t want to wait two sailings to go home after a day of work.”

Trolls and other restaurants in the village have adapted to COVID-19 and things have turned out better than what Kemp first feared, she said. Getting staff to return to work has probably been the biggest challenge, she added.

But, when colder and wetter weather arrives, the merchants are again going to have to find ways to keep customers comfortably fed.

“We’ve had it through the spring in the summer where people can easily sit on patios outside. The big question mark is going to come when October hits,” Kemp said.

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