Toll Vancouver bridges to save BC Ferries routes: mayor

The mayor of Masset on Haida Gwaii thinks Vancouver should start paying to help his community in the wake of dramatic BC Ferries cuts.

Andrew Merilees, the mayor of Masset, says Vancouver needs to pay up and help northern communities

Masset mayor Andrew Merilees thinks Lower Mainland bridges, including Vancouver's Lions Gate, should be tolled, with money funneled north to pay for BC Ferries service.

The mayor of Masset on Haida Gwaii thinks Vancouver should start paying to help his community in the wake of dramatic BC Ferries cuts.

Andrew Merilees admits his idea is radical: toll bridges in the Lower Mainland, with the sole purpose of subsidizing the ferry system and saving northern routes from the chopping block. He wants to start with Vancouver’s busy Lions Gate Bridge.

“If every vehicle was a quarter, they would raise millions and millions and millions of dollars that could go to supporting the transportation infrastructure of the province,” says Merilees.

The province recently announced that service between Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert will be cut by 52 sailings a year, starting in April 2014.

Merilees says the cuts will affect everything from medical treatment to groceries to tourism, and he believes it’s only fair that Vancouver help affected communities such as his.

“They’re being subsidized to a way larger extent than we are, and we’re not getting the basic services that the rest of the province is getting.”

with files from the CBC's George Baker

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