Gambier Island in Howe Sound has a small full-time population. The community has no on-island services such as stores, gas stations, medical clinics or schools. It relies on a 40-person water taxi, the Stormaway, to access all essentials, including groceries.
In mid-March 2020, as BC Ferries closed routes to essential service only, it became apparent that ongoing water taxi trips would pose a health hazard to passengers and crew. Leanne and Bobby Bruce, long-term residents of the island, organized and executed a complex venture to deliver groceries twice a week from stores in nearby Gibsons.
Islanders ordered online, and Leanne coordinated delivery services with return water taxi runs so Grocery Group volunteers could get to Gibsons to load the orders onboard the Stormaway. Upon returning to Gambier, the Grocery Group would quickly unload the water taxi. Boxes were taken up a ramp from the float to a shed on the pier. The orders were sorted and distributed or, in many cases, delivered to homes across the southwest peninsula.
Rain or shine, high tide or low, heat dome or southeaster – these dedicated people spent several hours a week hauling grocery orders on and off the Stormaway and up the gangway.
Leanne and the other volunteers kept the local community safe and protected the Stormaway crew from getting sick by offering this service and following through with the details. The Gambier Grocery Group has been a lifeline for Gambier Island.