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BC Ferries should return to being government-controlled: Petitioner

More than 20,000 people are rallying behind a petition urging the provincial government to take back control of BC Ferries.

Jim Abram wants BC Ferries to be managed as a highway by Ministry of Transportation

A petition is calling on the B.C. Government to take back control of BC Ferries. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

More than 20,000 people have signed a petition urging the provincial government to take back control of BC Ferries.

The petition will be presented at the B.C. legislature on Tuesday.

Chair of the Strathcona Regional District, Jim Abram has been a driving force behind the petition.

He told The Early Edition the current BC Ferries governance has failed, and it's time to put the transportation ministry back in charge. 

"This isn't just important, this is essential," said Abram.

"Do we have this structure for any of our terrestrial highways? Do we have a board of directors for the pavement out in front of your place or the bridge in Vancouver? Of course we don't. We have civil servants working out of the highways division of the ministry that say 'we need to do X' and they send their contractors out and they do it."

Abram wants the system to be managed similar to the inland ferries in B.C.'s interior, which are operated by B.C.'s transportation ministry.

BC Ferries went from being a Crown corporation to a private entity in 2003, though it receives an annual taxpayer subsidy.

Independent Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, who will be presenting the petition in the legislature, says the Liberal government needs to view ferries as part of the province's transportation infrastructure, or risk alienating B.C.'s coastal communities.

"Certainly the ministry has to start looking at the value BC Ferries has to the coastal communities and to the people who live there," Huntington said.

"They can't see themselves as part of British Columbia unless they can be guaranteed a service that says, 'You are British Columbian and we value your contribution to our province.'"

To hear the full interview with Jim Abram, click the audio labelled: Call for B.C. to reassume control of ferries.

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