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Canada Infrastructure Bank lends BC Ferries $75-million for zero-emission vessels

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The BC Ferries vessel Spirit of Vancouver Island passes between Mayne Island and Galiano Island while travelling from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, B.C., on Sept. 20, 2023.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Canada Infrastructure Bank is lending $75 million to British Columbia’s ferry service to help buy four zero-emission vessels and install electric charging infrastructure.

A statement from the federal Crown corporation says it has closed a deal with BC Ferry Services as the company expands the electrification of its fleet.

It says terminal upgrades are to be completed by 2027 and the battery electric ferries will be used on small-volume and shorter routes.

The federal agency says it’s part of BC Ferry Services’ plan to replace its existing fleet with quieter and more environmentally friendly vessels.

It says the vessels are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 9,000 tonnes each year, and existing diesel-hybrid vessels will be transferred to other routes to replace ferries that have reached the end of their operating life.

Six hybrid electric Island class ferries have come online over the last two years and the BC Ferries website says the vessels are fitted with technology that “bridges the gap” until shore-charging infrastructure becomes available.

Canada Infrastructure Bank says the loan will cover the higher upfront costs of the four ferries compared with diesel, including the necessary charging infrastructure.

It says loan repayment will come from passenger fares and retail revenues.

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