Opinion

Cuts will hurt island communities

Filed for publication with the Mirror

Dear Premier Clarke,

I am a Quadra Islander. My ferry route is my marine highway and should be included in the transportation infrastructure, just as ferries are treated in the rest of the world. I help pay for highways, bridges, tunnels and free ferries in the rest of BC. I should not have to pay 85 per cent of the cost of my ferry in fares.

It is shocking that BC Ferries has one manager for every six employees, to a total of 600 managers recently receiving large bonuses, and 450 of those managers receiving pay of $200,000 per year. It is shocking that BCF will pay David Hahn $300,000 per year for the rest of his life, and that the current CEO gets much more than that, along with two pensions and a vehicle allowance. It is shocking that directors make $100,000 for part-time work.

It is shocking that the single biggest BC Ferries cost is servicing its debt, debt incurred by Fast Cat ferries and other examples of mismanagement.

It is shocking that on April 1, 2014, 7,000 sailings will be slashed and passenger fares will be increased beyond the already 135 per cent increase in the last ten years. Cuts to ferries, as well as fares increases, will result in the departure of many island community members even though many of these communities were in existence before many other towns in B.C.

Premier Clarke, I implore you to scrap this unworkable B.C. Coastal Ferries Act of 2003. Roll ferries into highways, pick up capital costs at a cheaper government rate, and then cover operation costs. Fares can then be reduced, schedules maintained, seniors respected, tourists enticed and businesses encouraged.

Joyce Baker

Quadra Island

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