Protest Against BC Ferries Planned for Tuesday
VICTORIA, BC — British Columbians from across coastal communities and throughout the province plan to meet and protest on the lawn of the Provincial Legislature on Tuesday, March 11 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Their message? Stop the cuts, lower the fares and put BC Ferries back into the Highway system.
In November, the provincial government announced service cuts to ferry system and in January, BC Ferries announced further hikes to fares, including a 3.5 percent fuel surcharge on January 17th, a hike of 4 percent in April 2014 and another 4 percent planned for April of 2015. Of course that means truckers will pay more to use the ferry, too!
When the fare hikes were announced in January, Mike Corrigan, president and CEO of BC Ferries said he knows the fare hikes are unpopular with customers and that they're doing everything they can to keep costs low.
Jim Abram, chair of the Strathcona Regional District commented: “Until the government wakes up and treats our marine highway in the same manner as the terrestrial highways, BCFS will never be sustainable. We are the marine highway and need to be treated as such.”
Protesters are asking that service cuts and fare increases are put on hold and the BC Ferry System goes back to the Ministry of Transportation and Highways.
“Coastal British Columbians take no issue with paying our fair share of the provincial highways budget, which includes free inland ferries. But we do take issue with being double-dipped and being forced to pay up to 98 percent of the operations costs of BC Ferries on top of our provincial highways contribution,” said Jef Keighley, chair of the BC Ferry Coalition. “Our coastal ferries are our marine highways and should be funded as part of the provincial transportation system.”
“Defend Our Marine Highways” is organized by coastal activists with support from local governments, business, labor, seniors, First Nations, community organizations and coastal residents.
“We’re all in the same boat,” said Sheila Malcolmson, chair of the Island Trust. “Coastal communities aren’t asking for anything the rest of BC doesn’t have. Public infrastructure is the foundation on which business operates and our province functions. By reinvesting in coastal ferries, the government can help restore the economic and social health of ferry-dependent communities. If fares come down, ridership can rebound and businesses begin to recover. BC must return to the fundamental principle that built this province: marine transportation is an essential part of BC’s prosperity.”