Thursday, July 30, 2020

With refit looming for Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams, Band Council prepares to launch water taxi/barge service to community

The Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams heads for its refit and maintenance
in late August with a barge/water taxi service to take up the
transit for residents between Lax Kw'alaams and Prince Rupert

Travellers looking to transit to and from the First Nation community of Lax Kw'alaams will be making use of two alternative modes of transportation starting at the end of August, as the Community Ferry Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams heads south for its  fourth year cycle of maintenance and refit.

The process which takes place every four years is set for August 25th to October 25th and with the departure of the Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams for points south, the Band Council will put in place a combination of water taxi and barge service to transit people from the community to and from Prince Rupert.

In a notice to residents issued yesterday, the Band Council took note of the impact of the loss of the ferry for the three month period and released the schedule for the alternative service

"We recognize the challenges when using other vessels to replace our ferry services, please understand that during this time there will be limited opportunity for “normal” travel. 

We encourage all to plan ahead and be mindful of the limited passenger and vehicle capacities for this short time. 

This also serves and a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is still active and non-essential travel is not encouraged."

The schedule for the water taxi/barge system is as follows:

The schedule for Barge and Water Taxi service to and from
Lax Kw'alaams which goes into effect in lat August

(click to enlarge)

Those who make use of the transportation system are asked to use normal booking procedures (250-625-2445), check in 20 mins prior to sailings; and follow all COVID precautions on these service provider vessels.

While the Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams heads in for refit, some in the community are wondering what the status is of a replacement ferry for the community something that has long been on the wish list for past Band Councils.

That initiative to replace the ferry was noted back in the summer of 2016, the last time that the Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams went in for its four year refit cycle.,

Talks were said to be underway at that time with the then Liberal government of Christy Clark.

Last November in a community newsletter from then Mayor John Helin, it was announced that the Band council had secured a commitment from the Province for a new ferry

The last update on the prospect of a replacement for the Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams
Ferry came from former Mayor John Helin prior to last falls election

However, updates on the progress  towards a replacement vessel for the community have been few and far between since the changeover in government from the 2019 election.

The Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams which was once the MV Nicola, dates back to service in the early 1960's when it was part of the BC Ferries fleet.

Also of note for Lax Kw'alaams travellers is an employment opportunity notice posted to the Lax Kw'alaams Band website seeking  the services of a pair of licensed practical nurses to be used as part of the Band Council's COVID screening measures.

As we outlined on Tuesday, Lax Kw'alaams has initiated a number of health related measures and issued new advisories for residents following an outbreak of the coronavirus on Haida Gwaii

For more items of interest from Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page here.

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