Bruce Jolliffe suggests changes to ferry sailings should not be based solely on usage statistics and a few community meetings.
At Tuesday’s Comox Valley Regional District meeting, the Area A director requested board approval to send a letter to Transportation Minister Todd Stone and the B.C. Ferry Services board to oppose the proposed planned service cuts.
The Province plans to save $14 million by 2016 via service reductions on lower-use round-trip sailings on minor and northern routes. The Buckley Bay to Denman Island route is slated to lose 888 of its yearly 6,149 round trips, while the Denman to Hornby run is expected to lose 422 of 4,482 sailings.
“These cuts, if they are deemed the only solution, need to minimize the economic and social impact to the communities they serve,” Jolliffe’s letter states. “This is especially true for the ‘minor’ routes.”
He notes early sailings, for instance, may be critical to students and those employed off-island, while midday sailings could be better suited to rearrangement.
His letter also suggests reconsidering the process for understanding the impacts of service cuts. As opposed to a ‘town hall’ approach, Jolliffe suggests consulting with business, education and civic groups “to more clearly define the social/economic impacts that are not addressed by the current process.
“These impacts will greatly affect the economic viability of island and coastal communities and, in turn, the entire province.”
Comox director Tom Grant, the lone board member opposed to Jolliffe’s request, questioned if the letter is perhaps “picking on the wrong guy.
“Why not direct it to the Province?” he said, noting the problem with BC Ferries is a lack of government funding.
Grant suggests the board might be offering a simplistic solution to a complicated situation.
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Jolliffe was appointed as the CVRD representative on the Vancouver Island Regional Library board. Area B director Jim Gillis is the alternate member.