Islanders want fair ferry fares

  • Apr. 1, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Mayors, councillors and regional district directors on the islands are uniting to demand fair ferry fares, says Area E director Evan Putterill. Mr. Putterill says they have invited Minister of Transportation Blair Lekstrom to the North Central Local Government Association Convention in Prince Rupert in May and the locally-elected officials will stand together to call for action on increasing fares. Mr. Putterill said if Mr. Lekstrom accepts the invitation, he will invite First Nations governments to be part of the united front as well. Meanwhile, Mr. Putterill estimates that around 500 islanders so far have signed a petition calling for the government of BC to do all in its power to ensure the coastal ferry system offers fair and equitable fares. The petition can be found in various locations in Sandspit, Queen Charlotte, Port Clements, Masset and Tlell. He is hoping to find a petitioner in Skidegate and Old Massett who will help distribute the petitions in those communities as well. Mr. Putterill has also put together an on-line survey and had received 53 responses as of March 29. Respondents talk about the devastating effects of the high cost of living on the islands and concerns about prices for food, fuel and building supplies going up further. The vast majority of respondents thought the coastal ferry system should be considered part of our free use provincial highway system and absolutely no one thought that fares should keep rising until they cover the cost of running the ferry system. According to Mr. Putterill, since 2003 the average ferry fares in the north have nearly doubled, at a rate 6-10 times that of inflation. BC Ferries is saying it will have to double fares by 2016 if government does not increase rates of subsidization. The survey can be found at http://svy.mk/gfCShX