Additional service for BC Ferries’ Route 26 from Skidegate to Alliford Bay will be reinstated later this month.
“I’m pleased to hear BC Ferries is implementing government’s service level increase on Route 26. The additional sailings, to go into effect on January 28, will be welcome news for residents who were greatly impacted by service reductions made by the previous government in 2014,” North Coast MLA, Jennifer Rice, said.
Even Putterill, North Coast Regional representative for the electoral area located on north Moresby Island, said the 2014 cuts were a “really flawed process” that had significant negative impact on the communities up and down the coast.
On Haida Gwaii, residents from either side of the islands were not able to go to evening social and cultural events and tourists were not able to travel prior to five in the evening, he explained.
“The cuts had a whole raft of impact,” Putterill said, adding that the cuts and staff shortage resulted in ferries not being able to make call ins for BC Ambulance, causing patients to be transported by guard boats. “That was not good for patients. Especially in rough weather.”
The current provincial government provided funding for BC Ferries to provide an additional 2,700 round trips on ten minor and northern routes that were cut in 2014.
Route 26 is the final route to be operationalized under this agreement, and new employees are being trained to staff the additional routes.
“We are the last one, but better late than never,” Putterill said.
These additional services followed government’s fare relief initiative in 2018 that resulted in reduced fares on the smaller routes, reinstatement of the Monday-Thursday senior’s passenger fare discounts that were reduced in 2014, and a fare freeze on all routes for two years.
“Our government understands the importance of ferry service for coastal British Columbians – particularly those who live in ferry-reliant communities. That’s why we are taking the time to develop a vision for ferry services – to ask communities what their coastal connections should look like and how service can evolve to better serve community needs,” Rice said.
MLA Rice said the next phase of the ferry visioning process includes public engagement so to hear directly from the public on what they would like to see for coastal ferries in the future.
“I look forward to the launch of online engagement later this winter,” Rice said.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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