British Columbia

BC Ferries to add trips to routes cut back in 2014, but some want further reforms

BC Ferries will add 2,700 trips a year to 10 routes serving Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Southern Gulf Islands, Haida Gwaii and the North Coast, the province said Friday in a statement.

Province also releases report from former bureaucrat Blair Redlin on improving ferries

Ferry service on several routes, including several in Northern B.C., were cut in 2014. ((BC Ferries))

B.C.'s transportation minister claims her government is righting the ship when it comes to BC Ferries.

The province announced Friday that BC Ferries will reverse service cuts made in 2014 by adding 2,700 round trips per year to 10 routes serving Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Haida Gwaii and the North Coast, reversing cuts made in 2014.

"Our announcement today ... is ensuring that the people who were really hurt by the cuts back in 2014 under the B.C. Liberal government can have service reinstated," Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in a conference call, "And can ensure that their lives can continue in a much more normal way."

The routes that will see increased service are:

  • Crofton – Vesuvius.
  • Earls Cove – Saltery Bay.
  • Horseshoe Bay – Bowen Island.
  • Port Hardy – Mid Coast - Prince Rupert.
  • Haida Gwaii – Prince Rupert.
  • Powell River – Texada Island.
  • Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island.
  • Campbell River – Quadra Island.
  • Quadra Island – Cortes Island.
  • Skidegate – Alliford Bay.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena was sharply critical of her Liberal predecessor, Todd Stone, when she announced the changes to ferry service. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Recommendations made

The province announced the route changes the same day it released a report from former deputy minister of transportation Blair Redlin that made dozens of recommendations to the province for improving the service.

Some were financial in nature, such as eliminating the CEO's post-retirement salary. Others were operational

The B.C. Green Party, while praising improvements to B.C.'s "critical" ferry service, said that since BC Ferries is a private corporation, it is not obligated to follow any of the recommendations.

"My colleagues and I find this deeply concerning and continue to reiterate that B.C. Ferries would be able to best serve the public interest if it were brought back into government as a Crown corporation," MLA Adam Olsen said in a statement.

BC Ferries, in a statement of its own, said it was largely pleased with the review and is looking through it to find ways to move forward on government priorities.

Back to the Crown?

The idea of making BC Ferries a Crown corporation once again has gained traction in some quarters over the years. In 2003, BC Ferries was made an independent entity, albeit with provincial representation over the board in charge of it.

Jim Abram, a director of the Strathcona Regional District, is one person who has long called for BC Ferries to return to its previous status and said he was disappointed that Redlin did not make a recommendation to that effect.

A report from former bureaucrat Blair Redlin made numerous recommendations on ferry service. (BC Ferries)

"[Ferries] would run tickety boo no problem," Abrams said of the idea.

"Fares could be reduced drastically in that situation, because we would have a provincial tax base to draw from ... just like we do for the road service, just like we do for the ferry service in the Interior, all the bridges, all the tunnels, all the everything.

"We'll continue to pressure the government to do that."

Abrams said there were things he liked in the report and was glad to see service levels returned.

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