Just days left: will Ferries listen?

  • Feb. 19, 2014 12:00 p.m.

There’s just a couple of days left to make your voice heard about the coming cuts to ferry service, as BC Ferries online input consultation ends Friday (Feb. 21). On Feb. 12, BC Ferries posted its ‘Sailing schedule refinement option’ questionnaire, seeking to obtain “as much meaningful feedback as possible from the communities affected by service reductions.” This opportunity for input comes after two earlier ones run by the government, which saw officials from both the government and Ferries visit most communities on Haida Gwaii. In all, they spent about $1-million coast-wide, heard that most people were not in favour of the cuts, then went ahead anyway and are still planning to trim about $18-million from the ferry system’s budget, starting in just over two months. On Haida Gwaii, the cuts mean two things: fewer ferry crossings from Skidegate to Alliford Bay, as the Kwuna will be operating on a 12 hour schedule. This will reduce the number of daily sailings by four, one in the early morning, the other three in the evening. It will also mean one fewer sailing per week for the Skidegate-Prince Rupert ferry, for a maximum of five (not six) in the summer, and two (not three) in the winter. The consultation process now underway gives islanders the chance to take a look at two schedules. One proposed by the government consultation process, another one, slightly different, being put forth by BC Ferries. On the Kwuna run, the major difference is a 7:30 am start from Alliford Bay (the province proposed 8 am), a noon sailing from Skidegate and a tweak that would see the Kwuna leave Alliford Bay at 4 pm (now 3:40 pm), to tie in better with the Air Canada flight.On the Prince Rupert run, the Monday evening sailing from Rupert would be eliminated year round, leaving departures from Rupert on Sunday and Thursday, and departures from Skidegate on Tuesday and Thursday. As well, the Saturday round trip during the summer will be gone as well. Two sailings in the winter, five in the summer. The on-line feedback form gives you the opportunity to say which option you prefer, the province’s or Ferries. Either way, the savings, $14-million system-wide- will be made. The cuts are coming on April 28.

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