Archie Stocker Sr. / Haida Gwaii Observer) The Kwuna ferry leaves a fog bank.

Haida Gwaii community leaders launch BC Ferries survey

Islanders are running their own ferries feedback survey after one by BC Ferries got few responses.

What needs to change on Haida Gwaii ferries?

Islanders may have plenty of ideas, but until now they haven’t been shared much with BC Ferries brass.

Although BC Ferries did try to survey people on Haida Gwaii routes last year — customer satisfaction cards were available at the purser’s desk — they got too few responses for a meaningful sample.

Hearing that, councillors and elected reps in Port Clements, Masset, Queen Charlotte, and the regional district recently got together to make a ferries feedback survey of their own.

“We like to complain about it, but we like to complain about it to each other,” says Lori Wiedeman, chief administrative officer for the Village of Queen Charlotte.

“That’s what I was hearing back from BC Ferries, too — they don’t get a lot of complaints from islanders.”

With just nine questions, the online survey takes an average of five minutes to fill out, but it covers a wide range of issues, from sleeping options to pet facilities, mail delivery to vehicle lengths for a standard rate.

“It’s not all about the service schedule,” said Wiedeman, noting that some of the suggested changes are not big-cost items.

In late September, leaders from every village on Haida Gwaii will get their first chance to meet with the new NDP minority government and its Green supporters at the Union of BC Municipalities conference.

Wiedman said village leaders wanted to go into those talks with useful data from islanders that highlight particular issues on the Kwuna and Prince Rupert routes. To get the results ready to present to BC Ferries executives and provincial officials, all the surveys will need to be done by early September.

So far, it seems this time islanders have lots to say.

“It beats the heck out of any survey I’ve done until this point,” said Wiedman, adding that 258 responses came in just the first weekend. Given the islands’ population, it would be good to get somewhere around 1,000 responses, she said.

To take the survey, visit the BC Ferries Haida Gwaii Customer Feedback Survey page at www.surveymonkey.com.