Petition demanding BC Ferries be made part of the highway system now in B.C. government’s hands

Quadra Island regional director Jim Abram handed over a petition to the B.C. government with 16,055 signatures demanding the B.C. ferry system be returned to the control of the Ministry of Transportation.

Abram delivered the petition to the legislature on Monday to coincide with the opening of the current session of the house.

B.C. Green Party MLA Adam Olsen presented the petition to the legislature, the latest of many since the B.C. Liberal government set up the current structure in 2003. British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., as it is officially known, became an independent, regulated company that could borrow its own money to update its vessels and terminals.

“It was great, you know,” Abram said of having the petition introduced to the Legislature. “Adam Olsen, North Saanich-Gulf Islands MLA Green Party and their caucus met the week before to make sure that they were still aligned and that they were willing to present it. And they are still absolutely in favour as a caucus to see BC Ferries assumed back into the ministry. That was in their platform and they have stuck by it after the election which is kind of nice.”

The NDP government accepted the petition for consideration and now Abram and the petition supporters will give them a few days to decide what that means.

“I think within the week, I will be inquiring of the government what is it you are actually doing with the petition,” Abram said.

Abram is the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) director representing the Discovery Islands and Mainland Inlets. He is also the SRD’s representative on the Regional District Ferry Chairs Group.

Abram’s petition garnered a lot of media attention Monday. He and Olsen held a scrum with the legislature media after the petition was presented and was queried by most of the larger provincial media. That was followed by a round of visits to Victoria-based broadcasting outlets.

“It was really quite a good opportunity to be able to explain the thing,” Abram said.

The petition, as explained online at change.org, says “It is time to bring BC Ferries back into the Ministry of Transportation and treat it like any other highway in the province. BC Ferries is a major part of our transportation infrastructure, the Ferry Authority does not work. We need to look at the Governance of BCFS and put it back into the Ministry of Transportation where it belongs. This is an essential service for our Province.”

The issue has garnered significant debate in coastal communities and Abram said the concept has the support of the chairs of the coastal regional districts, including Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District (Victoria).

Coincidentally, the Minister of Transportation, Claire Trevena, is the MLA for North Island and lives on Quadra Island, as does Abram. She was an advocate of placing ferries under the ministry’s umbrella when she was in opposition for many years but has backed off that position now that she is the minister. She has implemented a review of BC Ferries but that review will not include governance of the ferry system, meaning it is not looking at whether to dissolve the arms-length corporate structure and place it under ministry responsibility – “Part of the highway system,” as it is popularly described.

Trevena, instead, contends that coastal ferry users don’t care what the governance structure is, they just want to see it run efficiently and affordably.

“They want it to be affordable and accessible, running the service they want,” Trevena told reporters at the legislature. “They don’t really care where it is housed as long as it’s affordable and accessible.”

Abram is surprised to hear Trevena make that contention because he says that’s not what he’s hearing.

“I was quite taken aback to see the minister’s governance comments,” Abram said, “The true picture is the people on this coast want to see BC Ferries put back in the ministry so that it will be kept affordable and accessible and cost efficient and all of that. That’s what people are saying on the coast.”

– with additional reporting by Black Press Legislative reporter Tom Fletcher

Just Posted

Campbell River Storm split home/away weekend action

Next up, the Nanaimo Buccaneers at the Brindy Friday night

Vancouver Island pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Sayward residents want cell service along highways

Regional District board will write CRTC to push for more service

UPDATED: Green Party MLA urges support for proportional representation

Sonia Furstenau speaks in Campbell River at community forum

Campbell River School District balancing with reserve funds

District’s reserves worth almost $7 million are used to help in leaner years

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

B.C. MP Cannings spared brunt of Ottawa tornadoes

MP Richard Cannings was spared the impact of the tornadoes that hit the Ottawa region

Vancouver Island designated as foreign trade zone

Designation simplifies importing and exporting and provides duty relief

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Most Read