Our ferry system links us – economically, physically and geographically – from getting goods to the mainland, to connecting with family and friends, to getting away for the weekend. Our coastal ferries are truly the lifeblood of coastal communities.
But, for years, people living in these communities have been ignored – and they’ve paid the price with skyrocketing ferry fares and service reductions.
Our government is working hard to put people in coastal communities first. We strengthened the Coastal Ferry Act to ensure it serves the needs of people who rely on day-to-day ferry service. We’ll also be developing a provincial vision for ferries – one that will give a voice to coastal communities and put them at the heart of decision making.
The BC Liberal government’s decision in 2014 to cancel the Port Hardy-Bella Coola route – despite fervent opposition from tourism operators, First Nations and others who relied on this service – is a clear example of decision making that fails to serve the public interest. In 2016, the former government changed its mind and asked BC Ferries to restore service. Three years and tens of millions of dollars later, people are hopeful that the Northern Sea Wolf will begin operating this summer.
People in coastal communities deserve better. That’s why our government is putting the needs of people at the heart of decision making, as well as improving access to affordable ferry services.
In February, I announced that our government is restoring service on 10 ferry routes that were cut in 2014 by the BC Liberal government. We are restoring 2,700 round-trip sailings for people living in coastal communities, which will help connect people to jobs, school, sports, activities and visiting with family and friends.
Last April, we took a major step to make ferries more affordable by freezing fares on the major routes and rolling back fares on the minor routes. We’ve extended these measures into this year, to improve affordability and make it easier for people to get around.
This meant an increase in government investment to BC Ferries by over $60 million over two years – the biggest boost to the organization in the last decade. Our government has been hard at work putting more money back in people’s pockets and we know every little bit helps.
I know that reliable ferry service is a necessity, not a luxury, which is why our government will continue to work hard to support affordable ferry services that will meet the needs of coastal communities and the travelling public in British Columbia.