Kwuna schedule continues to be tweaked

  • Mar. 1, 2014 11:00 a.m.

Several islanders met with BC Ferries in Vancouver last Wednesday (Feb. 26) to tweak schedules, ensuring final route changes cause as little damage as possible to islanders and island businesses.”Despite continued opposition to the cuts, the stakeholders provided input on the proposed schedules for all four (Northern) routes so that BC Ferries would have additional information to minimize the impacts of the government’s cuts,” wrote attendee Evan Putterill, Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District Area E director.Manager of Public Affairs for BC Ferries Darin Guenette said Ferries went into the meeting with the understanding that the cuts are significant to residents of coastal communities. The meeting provided Ferries an opportunity to hear about the impacts of the cuts again, but he also said there was cooperation and assistance on the part of the stakeholders in developing the new schedule.”There was a good balance. We worked through the schedules and found further adjustments to be made,” he said.BC Ferries’ said it is going to use its proposed schedules for the Port Hardy – Prince Rupert route and Prince Rupert – Skidegate route during the meeting. The provincial government’s original schedules were rejected, wrote Mr. Putterill.It was found, according to Mr. Putterill, that the suggested schedules for the Skidegate – Alliford Bay route provided by both BC Ferries and BC were problematic, and needed further adjustment.”Route 26 (Skidegate – Alliford Bay) will be further refined to better accommodate commuters, students commuting to school, and for connectivity with Sandspit airport traffic while remaining in a 12-hour window. In addition, BC Ferries assured participants that they see no operational problem with delivering after hours sailings for BC Ambulance and BC Hydro but reminded the group that the ship’s crew is on-call on a volunteer basis for these sailings,” he said.In the meantime, future bookings for Northern route sailings are only partially open, said Mr. Guenette. However, he said online schedules were to be completed by Tuesday (March 4) morning.”BC Ferries felt it was a productive and constructive session looking at how best to set schedules, moving forward for communities. It was a very strong turnout for the full day session,” Mr. Guenette said.Leighann Rodger, principal at Agnes L. Mathers in Sandspit, represented School District 50 in Vancouver and Heather Adel of MIEDS in Charlotte was present by phone.According to Mr. Putterill, they were joined by stakeholders from Northern BC Tourism, Prince Rupert, Heiltsuk Tribal Council, the community of Shearwater, Central Coast Regional District, Bella Coola Valley Tourism Association, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nation, District of Port Hardy, and Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce.BC Ferries plans to implement its new, money-saving schedules on April 28, less than eight weeks away.

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