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Portable toilets give 'third world chic' to Gabriola ferry: tour organizer

An organizer of an upcoming Gabriola Island art tour says she's unhappy about British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. putting portable toilets on the deck of the Quinsam ferry this week.

“Already a sorry little ferry with a worn-around-the-edges air, the B.C. Ferries adds to the Quinsam's 'third world chic' by closing the washrooms on one of the busiest weekends of the year and gives us porta-potties on the deck,” wrote Gabriola Arts Council president Kathy Ramsey in an e-mail.

Organizers are expecting hundreds of visitors for the Thanksgiving weekend studio tour, she said. “We've always been so proud to showcase our high-calibre artists, their gorgeous working studios and this beautiful little slice of paradise that we call home,” she said. “And B.C. Ferries? Are they happy to help us out? Do they actually want us to add ridership during the shoulder season? Are they grateful? Apparently not.”

A call to B.C. Ferries' media contact was not returned by posting time.

B.C. Ferries on Wednesday added three portable toilets to the Quinsam's deck, bringing the total to four, the Tyee reported. The government-owned company closed the on-board washrooms so engineers could fix the vessel's sewage treatment system.

The vessel is scheduled for a refit starting Oct. 15, but B.C. Ferries hopes to have the sewage system fixed before then, B.C. Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said Wednesday.

“If our ferry fees didn't keep rising it would almost be funny but this is getting pretty darn close to just plain old insulting,” wrote Ramsey.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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