Island mayors react negatively to ferry fare increase

  • Oct. 15, 2012 8:00 a.m.

By Jane Wilson–“It’s as if the screws are being tightened,” said Queen Charlotte Mayor Carol Kulesha, “we’re being choked off from the mainland. We’ve tried every way we can to get our story forward and this is the action they have taken, it’s an argument we haven’t been able to win.” Mayor Kulesha said she believes the next step will be cutbacks in service.Masset Mayor Andrew Merilees agrees that service cutbacks could be the next step taken by the ferry corporation, and said he is concerned that the cuts could focus on the Kwuna, and service between Skidegate and Sandspit reduced. He described himself as frustrated with the ferry issue and pointed out that an increase in fares will not address the issue of ridership on the ferries and that 12% over three years is substantially more than a cost of living adjustment. “It reflects on the fact that BC ferries system is flawed itself,” he said, “as a user pay model expecting the user come up with the incredible shortfalls of ferry infrastructure, things like the terminals the docks the marketing arm of BC Ferries. All of the infrastructure of BC Ferries should be part of the provincial transportation network.”Port Clements Mayor Wally Cheer said the increase represents a hardship to both residents and tourists. “I would have thought the ferry corporation would have picked up on how fare increases impact the islands, when they had the commission two years ago, but obviously they didn’t,” he said. “Personally I’ve cut back on my trips off-island because I can’t afford the fares; I think that’s the same for most residents on island.”The fares will be increasing by four percent a year for the next three years.

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