Coast wide organizations including local governments, seniors organizations, businesses and labour are joining together to form the BC Ferry Coalition to protest the recent announcements by the provincial government of ferry service cuts and fare increases.
The newly formed Coalition asks that other organizations and communities join them in a day of co-ordinated protest on January 18, 2014 from 12:30 pm. to 1:30 pm. at public rallies from Langdale to Earl's Cove. People are encouraged to bring a personal letter of their concerns addressed to Premier Christy Clarke. SCRD Chair Garry Nohr and Councilors will attend the respective rallies and collect the personal letters for forwarding to Premier Clarke.
The rally points will be:
- Langdale Ferry Terminal
- Upper Gibsons, Pratt Rd. & Hwy. 101
- Roberts Creek Rd. & Hwy. 101
- SIB Offices and Raven's Cry Theatre
- North end of Redrooffs Road & Hwy. 101
- Madeira Park Road and Hwy. 101
- Earl's Cove Ferry Terminal (noon to 1 pm because of ferry schedule)
The Coalition states, "A consensus is building across coastal communities that schedule reductions and fare increases should be placed on hold while transparent needs assessments for all ferry-dependent communities are conducted. BC Ferries is our marine highway—part of the larger highways network—and should therefore be similarly funded. The current BC Ferries corporate model is failing. The system needs to be rebooted to enable economic growth in coastal communities."
The announcement by the Province of service cuts and fare increases before the public engagement process was completed was the final straw for many coast residents. Hundreds of angry residents showed up at the meetings to express their outrage and anger.
Most coastal residents see the BC Ferries as an extension of the highway system to which they already contribute. By making the ferries more costly and less accessable for both residents and tourists, the Province is contributing to the economic demise of BC's coastal communities. And it works both ways, coastal residents cannot afford to travel to the urban centers to spend their dollars and contribute to their economies.
"The decade long experiment with a quasi-privatized corporate model has proven failure. It’s time to reboot the BC Ferries corporate model and take it back under more direct provincial government control and treat our ferries like the marine highways that they are," states organizer and Sunshine Coast Senior Citizens chair Jef Keighley. " The provincial highways budget should be increased to include the full capital and financing costs for all BC Ferries’ shore facilities and the ferry fleet, including replacements as needed, to be shared by all British Columbians with operating costs covered by substantially reduced ferry fares in the range of 30% and then only allowed to increase thereafter by the rate of inflation."
The Coalition is in the initial organizing phase and will be forming a steering committee, opening a bank account for contributions to cover expenses and connecting with other communities and municipalites, organization and First Nations. Other actions being considered or encouraged are: letters to MLA's and the editor of local publications, creative signage, boycotts of certain ferry travel days or on board services and petitions.