With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said her party would restore BC Ferries to the status of a Crown corporation if elected to government on Oct. 24.

She denounced the current for-profit motive while speaking in the Brentwood Bay neighbourhood of Central Saanich on Oct. 19 with the Mill Bay ferry as a backdrop and incumbent Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen at her side. Furstenau said a non-profit approach toward the ferry service under a Crown corporation governance model would place the needs of residents ahead of profits.

In 2003, the BC Liberals converted the BC Ferries from a Crown corporation created in 1960 into a half-public, half-private company with the provincial government as the sole shareholder.

The provincial ferry system is an “essential” part of the provincial transportation network like roads and bridges that connects communities and generates “significant” part of the provincial economy, she said, adding later that the provincial ferry system needs to put a greater emphasis on multi-modality to help reduce the provincial carbon footprint.

RELATED: NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

“If we are focused on BC Ferries being a Crown corporation, then the goal is not to generate profit, the goal is to generate service,” she said. “Our transporation is part of a service that government provides to every citizen in B.C. and every citizen should count on that service being as efficient, reliant, and affordable as possible.”

Furstenau later denounced the general erosion of service levels, but could not give concrete answers to the question of how a change in governance would improve service.

“People are feeling less and less served by the ferry system, so what we need to get to is a place where people feel that this service is actually meeting their needs and serving first and foremost, and then we measure our outcomes, based on how well we are getting to that place where people’s needs are being served,” she said. “It’s a shift in how we approach the question of our ferry system.”

When asked again for specifics, Furstenau said the change would improve passenger-ferry service, reliability, accessibility and customer services in areas such as reservations. “We have to make sure that residents in all coastal communities can count on their ferries to serve them,” she said.

Furstenau’s call unfolded against the backdrop of BC Ferries suffering massive financial losses, which executives have blamed on COVID-19. Net earnings for the fiscal year of 2020 ending March 31 fell to $28.8 million from $52.2 million in 2019, losses that will likely see taxpayers help pick up the tab through emergency relief support. BC Ferries also carries debt worth $1.4 billion.

“As you point, the provincial government and the people of B.C. contribute very significantly to this organization,” she said. “Yes, there is an issue around the debt, but what is important is that as funders, both through government and the citizens who use the ferry system, it is important that government is setting the outcomes for the service levels that we want to see.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

BC Votes 2020Election 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Christmas Tree being put back up in the Thunderbird Mall parking lot. (Thunderbird Mall photo)
Giant Christmas tree returns to Thunderbird Mall Parking lot

At the end of the 2019, extreme winds knocked over the community Christmas tree.

Black Press file photo
Port Hardy RCMP catch shoplifting suspect who allegedly stole over $500 worth of clothing from local store

The suspect was eventually released with multiple conditions and to attend court in February of 2021

Quatsino First Nation is heading back to the polls. (Quatsino image)
Quatsino First Nation electing new Chief and Council

The ballot count will be broadcast over Zoom after polls close

For over a year Loaves and Fishes Food Bank has been giving 5,000-7,000 pounds of food every week to help address the massive need in the North Island. This year, they have partnered with the North Island Gazette Hamper Fund by providing $15,000 in gift cards to help with their Christmas Hamper Program. “Loaves and Fishes believes that everyone deserves access to a reliable abundance of food barrier free, it’s a real privilege to further serve the amazing people in Port Hardy and Port McNeill by assisting the Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund,” explains Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes Executive Director. Loaves and Fishes bi-weekly depot is at Saint Columba’s Anglican-United Church and bi-weekly deliveries to other organizations in Port McNeill will continue through next year. (Natasha Griffiths photo)
It’s been a unique 41st year for the Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund

‘This year has been very different than previous years due to the pandemic’

Christmas decorations at Gus' Pub. (Opal Tesch photo)
Gus’ Bar and Grill gets into the holiday spirit

Gus’ Bar and Grill has been a fixture in Port McNeill since… Continue reading

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read