VICTORIA — Harbour Air’s plan to convert its entire fleet to 750-horsepower all-electric motors will require roughly 48 km of extension cables across the Strait of Georgia.
The company announced its partnership with a Washington firm yesterday to begin converting its fleet to be powered by the magni500 engine.
“We recognize the towers and cables required in the water may cause some disruption to the fisheries and passing marine traffic,” said Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of Harbour Air Seaplanes. “But sometimes you have to give up a little to get a little.”
The plan calls for towers to be placed every 1.2 km from Gabriola Island to the west side of the University of British Columbia. The electric cables will restrict marine vessels larger than a small tugboat from passing the Strait. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Fisheries says they expect most salmon stocks to deplete to pre-1920s levels as a result of the program.
The environmentally damaging plan is a surprise to many industry watchers, who said Harbour Air became the first fully carbon-neutral airline in North America in 2007, through the purchase of carbon offsets.
Harbour Air operates 12 routes between destinations such as Victoria and Vancouver, and Seattle and Vancouver. It carries more than 500,000 passengers on 30,000 commercial flights each year.