The Ministry of Transportation last week released its summary report of last fall’s coastal consultation and engagement tour.
It’s safe to say those who attended the North Island sessions in Alert Bay, Port Hardy and Sointula were unsurprised by the findings.
The general tone of the testimony in Port Hardy, at least, was that the process was flawed and masked a pre-determined decision by BC Ferries to achieve $26 million in savings through fare increases and service cuts.
So what did we learn from announcements on consecutive days last week?
That coastal ferry users can expect fare increases and service cuts.
In a conference call following the release of the report, transportation Minister Mary Polack uttered all the traditional assurances, such as, “We heard loudly and clearly people want us to … recognize ferry services mean more to coastal communities than just the bottom line for BC Ferries.”
Yes, but the whole purpose of the consultation process was to save $26 million, which sounds like a distinctly bottom line mandate.
What Polack downplayed was that people also “recognized” BC Ferries constitutes a coastal highway system.
As such, it should be funded like the rest of the B.C. highway system.