Anacortes-Sidney ferry route cancellation will change lives

Mar 2, 2023, 2:55 PM | Updated: 3:35 pm
Washington State Ferries are coping with great change. (Washington State Ferries)
(Washington State Ferries)

Many people in the region depend on ferries to not only get around, but for their livelihood.

When MyNorthwest and KIRO Newsradio first broke the story of the cancellation of the Anacortes-Sidney B.C. route, to some, it was just a footnote to the day’s news. But to others, it was a life-changing announcement.

Ferry system announces Edmonds-Kingston route at full strength

“I have family that lives in Sidney,” Friday Harbor resident Valerie MacKnight explained. “So that route from Sidney to Anacortes was our little lifeline to get back and forth to each other. I moved back here in 2019, and one of the main considerations was that proximity to Vancouver Island. My family that’s there, they actually celebrated New Year’s Eve with me here in Friday Harbor for 2020.”

MacKnight said her family was excited for 2020 when they took the last ferry back to Sidney. They did not know when, or if, it would ever run again.

“Here I am out on this island where I had the ability to get over to Vancouver and Victoria and see my cousins and now it’s gone,” MacKnight said.

She stated it would be easier to get on a plane to Southern California than driving to Sidney by car.

There might be an answer to MacKnight’s dilemma. The Clipper company is looking at potentially picking up the route.

“It’s a big evaluation process, as you can imagine with any route, but it will certainly be something that gets looked at, and we’ll welcome conversations with the islands and all parties involved to kind of see if is there a viable option that we could support and if it makes economic sense,” Vice President of Marketing for the FRS Clipper Scott Meis said. “You know that’s certainly something we’d look further into, so we look forward to it.”

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As far as Washington State Ferries are concerned, it looks like a solution is far on the horizon. “We won’t be [returning to service] for another seven years,” public information officer Ian Sterling said. “Currently, we have one boat available for the route. However, it’s needed elsewhere.”

Sterling said the resumption of service to Sidney is the last route that will be restored. He said they base that decision on the use of the route and which available ferries would be appropriate to use.

“When we have new boats come online, we will restore service to Sidney, but that won’t be for a long time,” Sterling said.

It won’t be until 2030, as long as WSF has two boats certified for international waters.

Follow Micki Gamez on Twitter or email her here

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Anacortes-Sidney ferry route cancellation will change lives