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BC Ferries sees extreme waits at Horseshoe Bay on Canada Day

FILE (Courtesy Twitter.BC Ferries)

Some customers reported being turned away at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal as early as 7:30 a.m. Thursday

Some travellers tell NEWS 1130 they were unable to make their ferry reservations on Canada Day due to traffic congestion

BC Ferries says it's working to rebook customers who missed their reservations due to traffic on other sailings

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – BC Ferries is reporting high traffic volumes, especially at the Horseshoe Bay terminal, as many people look to get away for the weekend.

Some customers reported being turned away as early as 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Others tell NEWS 1130 even the reservation lanes were packed.

“We understand there are some people who haven’t been able to make it to the terminal and they have their reservations waiting, and they’ve missed their cutoff time. But we’re going to do our best to accommodate reserved customers on the next available sailing if they weren’t able to check in on time for their booked sailing due to the traffic,” explained Astrid Chang with the corporation.

With the Canada Day stat falling on a Thursday this year, many have taken the opportunity for an extended weekend getaway, adding to congestion. This means this is the first long weekend in many months since COVID-19 restrictions on recreational travel within the province were lifted, and it’s evident many are taking advantage.

“It’s a very popular travel day and we are experiencing extremely high traffic volumes at Horseshoe Bay terminal,” Chang said. “We are advising customers, if they have the ability to do so, to consider travelling via Tsawwassen to Duke Point or Swartz Bay instead. We’re trying to move traffic through as quickly as we can, but it is certainly lining up in advance of the terminal.”

For those who have reservations, Chang is asking that they let traffic flaggers onsite know, and follow direction of staff at the terminal.

Chang says BC Ferries has been preparing for a busy season, as the COVID-19 situation improves across B.C.

“We put in additional sailings for our major routes, including those going out of the Horseshoe Bay terminal,” she told NEWS 1130, noting service is close to what we would have seen in a pre-pandemic year.

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“That means that service between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale has increased, Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay, and we have those additional sailings throughout the day, and the full service with those vessels,” she added.

BC Ferries expected pent-up travel demand, however, Chang would not say if they were surprised by the demand seen on July 1.

“We have been waiting for travel restrictions to ease — collectively — throughout B.C., we’ve all been waiting to reconnect with the people that we haven’t been able to see for many, many months. So we anticipated that there would be an increase in demand for travel, and we’re certainly seeing that today.”

BC Ferries is encouraging travellers to check the Current Conditions page before they head out, and to book ahead of time if possible.