You might have noticed a recent change on Highway 20: The signs indicating you are on one of several “Circle Routes” in BC have been changed from “Coast Cariboo” to “Discovery Coast”. The new name is really the original name of the Circle Tour that involved ferrying from Vancouver to Nanaimo, driving up the Island, ferrying back to the Mainland at Bella Coola, and driving back to Vancouver via Highways 20, 97 and 99. Without consultation, the government installed the signs 10 years ago, creating a headache for tourism marketers who were confused about which name to use.
Now the original name is on the signs. Unfortunately, the Circle Tour has been essentially severed by the government’s decision to employ the tiny MV Nimpkish on the northern marine link this summer. The Nimpkish simply couldn’t handle the volume of tourists who could have taken the Discovery Coast Circle Tour if the boat had been adequate. Traveler complaints are loud and clear: The Circle Tour needs a larger, more suitable, vessel with a better schedule.