Islanders speak out against ferry cuts ‘You are shutting down the north’: Don McNeice of Sandspit

  • Dec. 3, 2013 5:00 p.m.

by Jeff King–BC Ferries’ community engagment process came to the islands this week, with meetings in Sandspit on Monday, Queen Charlotte on Tuesday and Masset on Wednesday. In Sandspit Monday, almost a quarter of the adult population, about 60 people turned out to hear what the consultants had to say, and to tell them what they think the cuts will mean to their community.Sandra MorrellWe are a small community. Cutting that first run, there are people who live here that won’t be able to get to work on time. It doesn’t look like our route here will have any provision for the peak season. That will cut off our tourism, tourism that we really desperately need to keep our town going. It’s really going to just cut us off completely.Don McNeiceThe cost (of taking) BC Ferries is up in excess of 30 percent. Service levels are going to go down 50 percent. You have cut me off from 50 percent of my business. How are you going to provide service to the taxpayers of Haida Gwaii with no early and no late sailing? You can’t put in an eight hour day (with the new, shorter schedule).You are shutting down the north.Derek Botchford, Copper Bay LodgeYou cut our day to the point where there is no point of going. You have completely taken our business away from us. We are just one of the people that you screwed by taking away the 7 am (sailing).Audrey PutterillWhy come here without first doing a socio-economic study of this small island of Moresby?Evan Putterill, Area E directorThe (Union of BC Municipalities) over the last four years has brought resolutions (saying) we can’t have service cuts. Delegates knew what that meant. With that amount of support for the marine highway system, how can the government justify what it is doing?(Ten years ago) you promised to publish route schedule (changes) two years before they were introduced. How can you justify this schedule change?Did you know these cuts are going to restrict access (to Copper Bay) for First Nations people to traditional food sources?There is no rational justification for these two policies (free fresh water ferries, paid salt water ferries). Mr. Putterill also noted that when the Queen of Prince Rupert and the Queen of the North were replaced, it was with larger vessels, despite the fact the older two were not fully utilized. “Was that businesslike?” he asked.Jim HenryYour implementing the service cuts should have been presented to this group in a more timely fashion. I don’t like the new service schedule. I would like to see them changed. I don’t know how that is going to be done. I don’t see in this new schedule any means to address the needs of this community.Cathy BaranOur (school) principal cannot make the starting of the school day at 9 am. I worry she would lose interest in her job.Gail HossAs a senior I am totally reliant on teachers who come over here in the evenings. The Tai Chi group, for me that’s a medical thing. If our teachers can’t come over here, we only will be able to practise in a room by ourselves.Al HuntWhy are you doing such a piss-poor job of running the ferries? You can’t make a business by making cuts. All I am hearing is negative. I don’t understand why we have a government division to take care of ferries. Why are they not part of highways? I don’t see why BC Ferries is separate from highways.Joe PrecourtThe cutbacks of infrastructure make it more difficult for people to go through their normal lives. Please. I hope your minds aren’t set on the 11 hour window. Be creative. (Cuts) send a message to First Nation communities that those communities are less important. We urge you not to discount us because we are from a less populated area.Gail HenryIf the Kwuna were smaller, our utilization numbers would be higher. We are actually being punished (by the size of the Kwuna).Bente SutherlandWe are already devastated by the lack of work. If you take out our routes, we will be devastated even more.We lose out. We lose out. This community will die off even more.Anne WesleyCut the Kwuna down to 11 hour shifts, I might have to quit my job. If you cut that schedule down, they stop using the ferry, we go on EI. The government is still paying.Jennifer Rice (North Coast MLA)Where is the math that will weigh the pros and cons? Are you accumulating the math of these people’s lives to see if it adds up to more than $18.9 million? Ms Rice also said she was ‘miffed’, even outraged, by the bonuses given to BC Ferry executives. “I find that it is extremely insulting to the people here,” she said, “People’s lives (will be devastated) by these cuts.”Bill RiegerI don’t think it’s going to work. Are we going to have to go through this process (again) in 2016? When there are family members in the Charlotte hospital, it’s important to be able to get to visit them. If I am working a 9 to 5 day, I don’t get to visit them.It really is just a shadow game to reductions. In the end we are going to get cuts. And those cuts don’t work for us as a community.Carol WagnerThis is one of the worst decisions I have seen anybody make. I’d like to thank BC Ferries for destroying the community.Nicholas BilofThere is a lot of frustration and anger here. You are all messengers.Stan HovdeI would like to see some of those elected officials and top brass at BC Ferries come out to some of these meetings.Heron WierMost of our guests take the ferry in the morning from Queen Charlotte, do a tour and take the ferry back in the evening. Our tours can’t be done in the time laid out in these schedule. I have well over $500,000 in revenue (that will be lost), and may be enough to do us in. There are many other businesses in Sandspit that rely on people coming over during the day.Chris PutterillTaking that 7 am ferry away from us, it’s going to be major. That first ferry cannot be cut, that is a majorly important ferry. There’s too much money in BC Ferries just getting pissed away. It’s poorly managed.Brian CharmanI wish for once you’d come to one of these presentations (with) something positive. You need people to work here. Your mandate years ago was to help the economy. Now, I don’t think you are helping. You are a detriment. Invest in the community so we can get ridership up and help BC Ferries.Laura PattisonShe spoke on behalf of the Gwaii Haanas Tour Operators Association.The ferry system allows Canadians and others to access (Gwaii Haanas). Probably the biggest concern is the timeline here. We have people booked. Businesses need a lot longer, I’d like to see that taken into consideration.Heather BruleI am probably going to move out of Sandspit if the cuts go ahead. Your ridership is going down and you are not going to get us back. BC Ferries needs to wake up.