Ferries committee volunteer quits due to ‘fat cats’

A longtime member of the Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) for Denman and Hornby islands has resigned from his voluntary position.

A longtime member of the Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) for Denman and Hornby islands has resigned from his voluntary position because he is tired of seeing high-paid executives receive bonuses while BC Ferries loses revenue and ridership.

Statements released last week reveal senior ferry executives earn million-dollar salaries and bonuses.

“It just occurred to me that BC Ferries is going from the fast cats scandal to the fat cats scandal,” Dennis Forsyth said Thursday. “I think it should be a scandal. Somehow the notion that a man (Rob Clarke) who is being paid $296,000 a year to do a job as a chief financial officer needs another $400,000 incentive in order to do that job I find just appalling.”

Forsyth represented the Denman Residents’ Association on the FAC. Acting as a go-between, it was his job to explain BC Ferries policies to his community.

“I think that exceeds my capabilities here,” he said of the salaries and bonuses. “Over the last few years they (BC Ferries) are more and more reluctant to act on any advice that we give them.”

He credits the corporation for reacting to minor issues such as terminal parking on Denman, but not to major issues.

Forsyth understands BC Ferries has financial problems, but does not understand the corporation “preaching” to people about fiscal responsibility and economy, then taking a bonus on top of a salary that would exceed the wildest dreams of most Canadians.

“There’s just something morally wrong with that,” he said. “Eventually somebody has to stand up and say that.”

Forsyth notes FAC research shows incentives that triggered bonuses read exactly like a job description. He questions why a CFO receives a bonus for bringing in a project on budget.

“His (Clarke) total compensation for last year was somewhere north of $750,000, when they added in the bonuses and benefits,” said Forsyth, noting Clarke spoke at FAC meetings about the importance of saving money in the face of rising fares and service cuts.

While not necessarily against the proposed cable ferry between Buckley Bay and Denman, Forsyth worries Denman will lose 12 to 15 “of the best-paying jobs on this island” to an alternate service provider.

“For an island with a population of 1,000 people, that’s a lot,” he said. “Maybe it’s a good idea. It will achieve savings and it will be more economical.

“What gets me is that the only people who are going to have to accept any pain and suffering are us. The four guys at the top, the leaders, are not accepting the slightest inconvenience or the slightest bit of pain through this. That is so hypocritical that it just defies belief almost.”