New SeaBus displays Indigenous art on maiden voyage

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      Vancouver's latest addition to its SeaBus fleet, the MV Burrard Chinook, had its inaugural voyage today (July 22).

      The immediate difference between it and its TransLink sister ferries was the colourful Indigenous artwork that covered its exterior.

      Drawing on the chosen name for the latest SeaBus, the art designed by artists Kelly Cannell (Musqueam), Siobhan Joseph (Squamish), and Angela George (Tsleil-Waututh) reflects the life cycle of the chinook salmon, the largest of the five species of Pacific salmon found in B.C. waters.

      A plaque aboard the new vessel explains the artistic inspiration and interpretation for passengers.

      The bold multicoloured wrap is the first such art installation on a SeaBus, and it stands out in contrast to the predominantly blue-and-white colour scheme of the other ferries.

      TransLink showcases Indigenous art with installations at the Broadway and Commercial SkyTrain station, the Surrey Central Station, and the Evergreen Expansion.

      Because the new SeaBus boosts the fleet to four ferries (the MV Burrard Otter was retired in 2016 and scrapped in 2018), three-SeaBus 10-minute sailings between North Vancouver and Vancouver can resume with maintenance flexibility and one SeaBus (probably the 1976 vessel MV Burrad Beaver) on standby for peak periods.

      (Without a spare ferry, past refits or extensive upgrades had to be done on long weekends during times when one ferry would offer half-hour sailings.)

      That will mean that the ferries MV Burrard Otter II and MV Burrard Pacific Breeze would join the Chinook during peak hours.

      Ferry operations between North Vancouver and Vancouver started in 1900, with a succession of five vessels providing the service until 1958. There was no ferry service again until 1977, when TransLink's SeaBus began.

      North Vancouver Ferry No. 2 was built in 1903 and originally named St. George.

      The Chinook construction was awarded to the Damien Group in the Netherlands in 2012; delays boosted the original cost estimate of $25 million to $32.2 million. The funding was shared by the federal government (50 percent), the province (33 percent), and TransLink (17 percent). 

      Some upgrades to the two SeaBus terminals are included in the final funding amount.

      “Wrapped in Indigenous artwork, the Burrard Chinook is a meaningful and exciting addition to one of the most important transit services in the region," Bowinn Ma, North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA and minister of state for infrastructure, said in a July 22 TransLink news release.

      "Providing people with more socially, environmentally responsible travel options that allow them to leave their cars at home reduces congestion, reduces our carbon footprint, and helps create more livable communities," Ma said. "Our government has been a proud funding partner for the upgrades at Lonsdale Quay, Waterfront Station, and this beautiful new SeaBus.”

      “The SeaBus is one of the most iconic, efficient, and comfortable services in the Metro Vancouver transit system," TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn noted in the release. "Thousands of people will see the Burrard Chinook each day, and we are so proud that its artwork reflects the culture of the local Indigenous communities.”