Ferry consultations confusing, rushed, incomplete, say reps

  • Oct. 31, 2012 10:00 a.m.

The ferry service consultation just launched by the provincial government is confusing, rushed, and missing key parts of the picture, say representatives of coastal ferry users.Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs (FACC) question the consultation goals.”Yes, it’s worth discussing the province’s two stated goals – how to save money, and a long-term vision for coastal transportation.” says Harold Swierenga of Salt Spring Island FAC. “But there are many holes and questionable assumptions in the picture of the situation as it’s presented.For example, the consultation doesn’t mention that fares are past the tipping point – and are part of what’s driving down traffic. Yet the Ferry Commission report recommended that fare increases should not exceed inflation. To achieve this the province would have to fill up some of the hole it created over the eight years it froze the funding it gives ferry service.”And there’s no explanation of why the province treats coastal ferries differently from other basic transportation infrastructure,” says John Hodgkins of Gabriola FAC. “This raises the question of what should be the province’s role in coastal ferries. That’s not asked in the consultation, but it’s an important question.”The FACC also questions the description of the $26-million target for cuts as a shortfall. “It appears to be a figure the province put into its contract with BC Ferries as a way to cap its contribution to ferries, says Alison Morse of Bowen Island FAC. “And the cap comes on top of its earlier funding freeze.”Further, the FACC say previous government announcements led coastal ferry users to expect consultation on specific cuts and cost-saving measures.”Instead, we have the process just announced. There is no commitment to come back and consult on specifics when they’re finally decided. Without that step, the province is flying blind. It won’t know what the cuts will do to ferry users and communities,” says Brian Hollingshead of the Southern Gulf Islands FAC. “Is this effective consultation?”The FACC also wonder why the whole province is being consulted, given that most British Columbians are not familiar with the needs and challenges of the complex coastal ferry service.?With respect to timing, the FACC were invited to a meeting less than two weeks ago to hear plans for community interaction. They had many concerns, but only a few of their recommendations were accepted.The consultation team was persuaded to add more communities to its meeting list, but there are still gaps. Some potentially affected communities won’t get a visit, and will have to rely on the internet, which is often inadequate in many coastal communities.”But most importantly, says Tony Law of Hornby-Denman FAC, “there is little time to let people absorb very complex information, and to look for other information they may need to give thoughtful, useful responses and ask questions that need to be asked.”The FACC has long advocated for direct engagement between communities served by ferries, and the government responsible for providing that service. The communities are ready for a more clear and constructive interaction than is being offered.

Just Posted

Fires still burning near Telegraph Creek

BC Wildfire Service assures residents of a proactive plan heading into wildfire season

Northwest B.C. leaders divided over oil tanker ban

Senate hearings in Prince Rupert and Terrace show Bill C-48 is at a crossroads

Northwest entrepreneurs pitch their plans for cash prizes

ThriveNorth announces 12 finalists in this year’s business challenge

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

Cyclist braking stigma on addiction from coast to coast

Mathew Fee aims at world record for longest distance on BMX bike while sharing his story of recovery

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Northwest B.C. leaders divided over oil tanker ban

Senate hearings in Prince Rupert and Terrace show Bill C-48 is at a crossroads

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Most Read