Last week, Gibsons Councillors Silas White and Jeremy Valeriote, and Chief Administrative Officer Emanuel Machado, invited Rita Koutsodimos and I (two veteran Sunshine Coast commuters) to meet with the BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Claire Trevena, at the UBCM convention.
We pitched a proposal seeking a small subsidy for a foot-passenger-only ferry service from Lower Gibsons to Downtown Vancouver. We suggested it could be an extension contract of BC Ferries (similar to the Stormaway III service provided by Kona Winds Charters to Keats Island), or put out to tender for a stand-alone service provider. Point being, the Sunshine Coast needs more frequent and reliable transportation options for people trying to get to and from their places of employment if we want to attract and retain young families. The Town of Gibsons recognizes the value of having a foot-passenger-only ferry service so much that it has included it in the Town’s Strategic Plan.
As a commuter of many years, year after year, I have seen young family after young family move to the Coast, only to give up and move back to the city after a year or two due to ferry burn-out. There are lots of spin-off benefits to supporting commuters on the Sunshine Coast: many of their spouses end up working in our hospital, school system and social programs. Plus, their kids are in our schools, they buy homes in our communities, and they spend 95 per cent of their salaries on the Coast.
The Minister was very supportive of the proposal, but stated she needs to spend the next year focusing on “fixing BC Ferries.”
We closed the meeting with a request that she consider incorporating our proposal into whatever coast-wide strategic plan the BC Government is developing, and offered whatever support our community can provide.
Aleria Ladwig, Gibsons