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General News · 18th December 2012
Uschi Koebberling
The following email was sent to the Coastal Ferries Engagement website by BrianHollingshead, member of the Ferry Advisories Committee Chairs (FACC)and forwarded to the Route 23+24 (Quadra + Cortes) Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) members by our Chair Paul Ryan, who endorsed the message. It was written and sent without FACC sign-off.
The link to the news release mentioned in the submission is:
Here is Brian Hollinhead’s submission for your information:
We would draw your attention to the attached press release from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. It's entitled "Promise made, Promise delivered: Transportation sector".

It eloquently reinforces the complete lack of appreciation by the Ministry of the importance of the coastal ferry system. It speaks to bridges, highways, SkyTrain expansion, ICBC changes, tunnel replacement, highway webcams, and yes, even community consultations.

And there's not a word about the ferry system. Not a single word.

It would appear that the Ministry has no connection whatsoever with BC Ferries, one of the largest ferry systems in the world, which it just happens to own.

A $750-million a year enterprise, a coast-wide essential service, and invisible!

A vital part of the British Columbia transportation infrastructure, we're told!

Twenty million passengers and ten million vehicles carried every year, but who cares!

This Ministry blind spot, so clearly evident in the news release, is a perfect example of why coastal residents feel abandoned, betrayed, disappointed by the Ministry's lack of response to ferry fares reaching and soaring past the tipping point, to ferry traffic declining, when it should have been growing, on the non-major routes for the past six years, and to local businesses withering and dying in our coastal communities. It illustrates the message residents and business owners from Sandspit to Saturna have been addressing to Ministry representatives for the past two months. The coastal ferry system appears to have zero status with the Ministry.

If there's a problem, then it's the users' problem.

The release cites number, big numbers:

- $3.3-billion for the Port Mann Bridge
- $1.26-billion for the South Fraser Perimeter Road
- over $11-billion in highway improvements since 2001
- approximately $2.3-billion directly to TransLink and BC Transit since 2001 for transit improvements

It does not mention the $1.2-billion contributed to the coastal ferry service since 2001.

But then, it also seems unaware of the $5.6-billiion 'contributed' to the same ferry service by customers over that period.

It makes no mention anywhere to shortfalls or losses. 'Invested', 'provided' seem to be the operative words.

It makes no mention of the two months of community consultations conducted by Kevin, Kirk and Judy to map out a vision for coastal transportation service and to discuss the funding 'crisis'. How could that be? Are those consultations of so little importance, they don't rate even a mention?

The closing paragraph: "Our government is focused on keeping our economy strong with good paying jobs while making life more affordable for British Columbians. The BC Jobs Plan supports job creation, strengthening our infrastructure for getting goods to market and opening and expanding markets for out goods and services."

Unless you live in a coastal community. Local economies being strangled, jobs collapsing, ferry service far from affordable, getting goods to market becoming cost prohibitive. That's the reality in our communities.

It saddens me to say that our neighbours, reading this press release, are disgusted with the hypocrisy of a Ministry claiming to be vitally interested in ferry service, while completely ignoring it in this glowing summary of the 'Promise made, Promise delivered'.

Sadly, it feels more like 'Promise made, Promise shredded' to the ferry-dependent communities.

Brian Hollingshead, member
Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs