Ferries consultation planned within weeks

  • Oct. 1, 2003 6:00 p.m.

BC Ferry Services is coming to the islands later in a few weeks to consult with islanders about northern routes.
Ferries needs to figure out what to do about the two northern routes. Both the Queen of Prince Rupert and the Queen of the North must be replaced by 2010 at a cost of about $60-million each. And the routes are losing money. The province pays $11-million a year to help keep the Queen of Prince Rupert and the Kwuna running.
The new ferry operator, BC Ferry Services Inc., must give a northern strategy to the government by March 31. While company executives visited the islands last spring, the consultation process will begin in good earnest this month, says Gary Leitch, Manager of Stakeholder Relations for BCFS. Ferry representatives will visit the islands likely the third week in October, to hold a one-day workshop with community, First Nations and municipal leaders, he says.
During the morning, Ferries will present its financial research analyzing the various options and implications for service in the north. In the afternoon, it will get feedback from participants. “We want to make sure we have a thorough understanding of what people want,” says Mr. Leitch.
The problem of what to do about the northern ferries is not new. BC Ferries began visiting the islands in 2000 to consult with islanders about their expectations for ferry service, says Mr. Leitch.
“People have been making pretty clear statements about what they consider an acceptable level of service. We’ll take time to confirm that we have heard the communities correctly,” says Mr. Leitch. Part of BCFS contract stipulates that the company must consult affected communities during the process of creating a new strategy.
BC Ferry Services Inc. is a private company created by the provincial government last spring to replace BC Ferry Corp.