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General News · 17th December 2010
Claire Trevena
North Island residents deserve to know if B.C. Liberal leadership candidates will listen to calls by the chairs of the Ferry Advisory Committees for help to keep fares down, say the New Democrats.

The Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs released two reports last month calling for an immediate review into the support given by the B.C. Liberal government to B.C. Ferries. The reports say current funding models could lead to annual increases of 10 per cent or more, along with service cuts.

“This is having a huge impact on our communities,” said North Island MLA Claire Trevena, “from the cost of groceries, to families leaving their island homes. Ferry fares are unacceptably high.

“None of us can forget that ferries are an integral part of our highway network. I hope that all candidates in leadership races pledge to recognize the importance of ferry dependent communities and the ferry system.”

The advisory committee chairs are calling for the provincial government to recognize the dramatic impact these fare increases are having on their communities and to keep any fare increases to a reasonable level.

Fares on B.C. Ferries have risen by more than 100 per cent on some routes in the seven years since the B.C. Liberals turned it into a quasi-privatized company. New Democrat ferries critic Gary Coons said the continuing increases fly in the face of the government’s pledge that the new structure would bring about “stable fares.”

“Increased ferry fares under the misguided B.C. Liberal funding model have already led to a steady decrease in ridership,” said Coons. “Rising costs have made basic transportation options unaffordable.

“These increases are a hardship on coastal and island residents and will impair economic development in these regions. It’s time for the B.C. Liberal leadership candidates to show where they stand on fairness for ferry-dependent communities.”

The B.C. New Democrats’ vision for strong communities is based on environmental, economic and social justice that includes policies based on principles of sustainability.