BC Ferries offers help to offset Kwuna fares for some Sandspit residents

  • Sep. 26, 2008 7:00 p.m.

Sandspit residents may soon get some relief from the high cost of taking the Kwuna back and forth to Graham Island when they want to go to recreational events or take educational classes. QCI Recreation coordinator Julia Brobbel raised the issue with BC Ferries in August and waited a long time for a response, but finally, she said, BC Ferries has offered a way to help. By the end of October, she will receive two vouchers for a vehicle, driver, passenger and cabin fare from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy, valued at $1,500 total, which she will then be able to auction off to raise money for a recreation fund for Moresby Islanders. Ms Brobbel got started on this after she realized how difficult it was for people in Sandspit to come to Graham Island for a recreational event or to take a course. Not only would they have to pay for whatever they were doing – college courses for example may cost $250 – but they’d have to pay $30 each day on the ferry too. She found out that children traveling on the Kwuna get a free fare over when it’s for recreation or sports activities, but the adult and vehicle fees still had to be paid. “It becomes really unaffordable,” she says. She said Queen Charlotte mayor Carol Kulesha really helped her get through to the right person at BC Ferries, but then they had to figure out a way to help. At first she was hoping BC Ferries would donate 50 to 100 passes a year, which would be valued at $1,500 to $3,000, but after conversations with the ferry company was told that if they did this, they’d have to offer the same support to other ferry dependent communities. The topic also came up at the Sept. 10 Moresby Island Management Committee meeting, where members voted to send a letter to BC Ferries supporting the idea of getting a set number of BC Ferries passes. Ms Brobbel is happy with what BC Ferries came up with. She plans to auction off the passes in the coming months. “Hopefully we will raise a good amount of money to subsidize the fares,” she said. Other details of how the money will be distributed are still to be determined. She says offering recreation on the islands is a challenge with so many tiny towns so far apart. “We’re so geographically separated,” she says. “My whole take on QCI Recreation is bringing the community together and building healthy communities.” In other transportation news, Moresby Islanders heard back from Northern Health about getting access to the medical transportation services, similar to those offered on Graham Island. The chair of the Regional Hospital District Tony Briglio wrote a letter responding to MIMC’s concerns stating that the Northern Health “does not find it possible, at this time, to expand the service to Sandspit with the vehicle that is currently being used.” His letter goes on to state that Northern Health has not ruled out services for Sandspit, but this would have to be looked at in the next budget year.

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