Call renewed for more federal ferry support

Nathan Cullen joins six MPs demanding expansion of building fund

Nathan Cullen is renewing his pre-election call for the federal government to offer more help with B.C.’s beleaguered ferry system. In a letter to the new Infrastructure Minister, Amarjeet Sohi, the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP and six other MPs from Vancouver Island are asking that criteria for the New Building Canada Fund be extended to allow BC Ferries to apply for critical funding for infrastructure, terminal upgrades and new vessels. Their hope is the injection of cash would relieve BC Ferries of the financial pressure to increase fares and reduce sailings.

Under the Conservative government the Fund was not available to BC Ferries.

“British Columbia’s ferry system is a critical transportation link for moving goods and people in coastal and remote communities and … we believe that the coastal ferry system should be regarded in the same way as other key transportation links like roads and bridges,” the MPs wrote.

“This kind of funding would reduce cost pressures as BC Ferries renews its fleet and develops terminals and faces other capital costs.

“We believe that enabling Federal infrastructure funding from the Fund would help reduce these costs and enable savings to be passed on to ferry users.”

At last month’s Ferry Advisory Committee meeting, BC Ferries representatives stated they welcomed all “cost-neutral improvements” to the system. At least in principle, funding from the federal government could make it possible to improve service without increasing spending from its current budget.

However, committee member Bill Beldessi of Sandspit said those statements were meant to tell communities they were simply free to move the schedules around, but without exceeding 12 hours of daily service.

He feels if the MPs can hatch a plan with the federal government’s New Building Canada Fund, provisos must be in place to ensure to savings are channeled into the right place.

“My biggest worry is they would apply the extra savings to their money-making runs, and the Northern runs would be on the outside looking in, as always.”

With the potential of accessing the building fund and most other efforts to improve ferry service, Mr. Beldessi says the committee members will need to redirect their discussions away from the corporation to the provincial government directly.

In the last committee meeting BC Ferries repeatedly stated the FAC was the wrong committee to discuss changes in service levels, frustrating committee members to the point of nearly to dissolving the committee altogether.

Despite optimism from committee chair Ellen Cranston, that the new BC Ferries vice president seems open to discussions and solutions, the overall mandate of the VAC is too weak to push for any significant change, Mr. Beldessi said.

“I think there was a feeling among the communities, not just the committee members, that we could actually accomplish something there, but it’s pretty obvious now that BC Ferries was the wrong target. The Province of British Columbia is the target.”

 

Just Posted

December windstorms led to record ferry cancellations

Baileys for breakfast? It may not be what the doctor ordered, but… Continue reading

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

On the Wing: Christmas Bird Count #4 — Skidegate Inlet

By Margo Hearne The marine forecast read “winds northwest 15 to 25… Continue reading

Haida Gwaii mountain biking gets in gear

The frost was gone, but the iced puddles on Mac Blo Road… Continue reading

Letters: A thank-you and update from Hooterville

First and foremost, I wish to express my gratitude to the many… Continue reading

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of B.C. overpass

Dash cam footage shows vehicle speeding across Brunette Avenue overpass in Coquitlam

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Most Read