Ferry lobbying continues in Victoria

Comox Valley Regional District chair Edwin Grieve and chairs from nine other coastal regional districts, including Metro Vancouver, met Monday in Victoria with BC Ferries Commissioner Gordon Macatee to discuss options for improvements to coastal ferry service.

  • Aug. 11, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Comox Valley Regional District chair Edwin Grieve and chairs from nine other coastal regional districts, including Metro Vancouver, met Monday in Victoria with BC Ferries Commissioner Gordon Macatee to discuss options for improvements to coastal ferry service. Grieve has a personal interest in smaller routes such as Hornby and Denman that have been subjected to a 125-per-cent rate increase in the past few years.”And that’s going to go up another eight per cent,” he said. “The corporation or the government itself is going to have to step in and maybe rethink that policy around not subsidizing the different routes.” Ferry service is considered an extension of highway service in parts of the Mainland, where travellers can board free of charge, which Grieve said is unfair to those who depend on saltwater routes.”Why are we singled out?” he said. “A lot of the discussion falls on deaf ears with representatives from the Mainland because they don’t understand it. Basically, when they get on a ferry they’re on holidays.”But on this side of the water, ferries are an extra cost for medical and business travel, school, and for exporting and importing products.Grieve said the chairs agrees they need to boil down priorities to a few key issues with which all can identify.Powell River Regional District chair Colin Palmer, leader of the Coastal Regional District chairs, felt the group’s concerns were acknowledged. While he applauds public town hall meetings Macatee is planning for coastal communities, Palmer said the group is asking for “fundamental improvements” to the Coastal Ferry Act.The chairs will continue looking at policy options and recommendations, which will be presented to Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom and Premier Christy Clark. Last month, the group met with Lekstrom to discuss fare increases. They also called for a major revision of the Ferry Act.”There are some people that want them to reopen the whole Ferry Act, but that’s not going to happen,” Grieve said. “I’m looking for some fairness for the smaller routes. It’s a lifeline that holds our communities together.”Next month, the group plans to attend the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Vancouver where it will present a position paper that outlines a series of policy options and recommendations to help improve coastal ferry service. reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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