Bigger voice on northern ferry service required

  • Mar. 24, 2006 5:00 p.m.

Regional district directors say they want a bigger voice in the future of northern ferry service.
At an emergency meeting in Prince Rupert earlier today (March 24), directors discussed their concerns about the ferry service, which has been temporarily suspended following the Wednesday morning sinking of the Queen of the North.
“We acknowledged how difficult and horrible this was,” said Queen Charlotte mayor Carol Kulesha. “But we’re also looking forward to how we can work with BC Ferries and the Ministry of TransportationÂ… We need to be part of the strategic plan.”
Masset mayor Barry Pages, Area D director Ian Hetman, MLA Gary Coons and MP Nathan Cullen also attended the meeting, Ms Kulesha said, as did some mainland directors. Port Clements mayor Cory Delves and Sandspit director Travis Glasman were unable to attend due to weather conditions and full floatplanes, she said.
Ms Kulesha said she expects regional district directors will pass a motion at their formal meeting tonight calling for a louder voice for the coastal communities in the wake of the disaster.
Three main areas of concern, she said, are what kind of ferry service we can expect in the coming months, what caused the accident, and the specifications of the three new vessels which are supposed to be ordered to serve the northern routes.
“We are also thinking this is a really good time for the federal government to look at a larger presence for the Coast Guard and Navy,” she said.
Ms Kulesha said the directors – most of whom represent small communities themselves – recognized the tremendous contribution made by Hartley Bay to the rescue. Hartley Bay residents manned rescue boats and then sheltered passengers and crew in the first hours after the sinking.