British Columbia

'Nothing is off the table': Province asking for input on long-term plan for BC Ferries

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena is visiting coastal communities and asking people to think big about what they want and need from BC Ferries as the company creates a long-term plan

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena travelling to coastal communties to hear ideas

"Everybody who wants to have a say about the marine highway system has the opportunity," said B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena who is currently meeting with coastal communities to help inform the company's vision for the future. (Robb Douglas/CBC)

The province's transportation minister is asking for public input to help develop a long-term vision for BC Ferries and wants British Columbians to 'think big' about what they want from the company in the decades to come.

Minister Claire Trevena is currently holding invite-only meetings with stakeholders in coastal communities and the ministry plans to launch an online portal for public feedback in early 2020.

The intent is to have a document prepared by spring that could help guide company planning until 2060 and, according to Trevena, all ideas are welcome.

"We're making this as broad as possible because it is planning the path forward for the next 20, 30, 40 years," said Trevena on CBC's On The Island Thursday. 

Having already met with stakeholders on the Sunshine Coast, Trevena said she heard the community would benefit from a passenger-only ferry to downtown Vancouver.

In Haida Gwaii, Trevena was told people would like to see different route configurations in order to have daily ferry service. Nanaimo stakeholders, said Trevena, were largely concerned about the impact climate change will have on the province's marine highway.

Ferries essential to island economy

"Nothing is off the table at the moment," said the minister, adding BC Ferries is even open to the idea of having other transportation companies on the water after she heard from a group in Nanaimo that wants to launch a private walk-on service to Vancouver.

"We will be looking at what the right mix is and how we can evolve the system," said Trevena. "Anybody who lives and works on the island knows how important and how integrated a ferry system is to the well-being of our economy and that's something the previous government ignored."  

Trevena said since the NDP government took over from the Liberals in 2017, they have reduced or frozen fares on all routes, brought back sailings that had been cancelled and reinstated free ferry rides for seniors Monday through Thursday.

Developing a provincial vision was one of the key recommendations made in a  2018 review of coastal ferry services. 

To hear the complete interview with Trevena on CBC's On The Island, tap the audio link below:

Claire Trevena, provincial transportation minister, on consulting with coastal communities about long-term plans for B.C.'s marine highway. 8:15

With files from On The Island

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