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BC Ferry Concerns

BC Ferry Concerns

ColumnHead-GarryNohrSCRD directors attended the meeting of Union of British Columbia Municipalities in the last week of September and had the opportunity to speak to provincial ministers and staff on concerns and requests for the Coast. SCRD directors focused mainly on two items, the new proposed seniors’ residence and the drought management plan. As part of UBCM, I also attended the BC ferry-dependent regional chairs meeting with Transportation Minister Stone.

Directors spoke to several ministers, including the Health Minister himself, about the proposed Silverstone seniors’ residence and how it was presented to the community. Ministry staff were aware that the Sunshine Coast community was upset at the process but were silent on what could be done to rectify the situation. MLAs from other areas in the province were quick to suggest that if the Coast does not want this senior residence, their constituents would appreciate the opportunity.

The Environment Minister, Mary Polak, was interested in what steps the SCRD had put in place in the drought management plan to prevent Stage 4. Her department was given copies of the proposed options, including alternate sources such as an engineered lake, search for wells, and the drawdown option. The minister was interested in the SCRD’s process and was willing to help our staff go through the required steps for an environmental study and the actual development in order to complete the plan.

As part the regional chairs’ group from ferry-dependent communities, I had an opportunity to speak at a meeting with Transportation Minister Stone on BC Ferry concerns. The major focus of the chairs’ presentations was the economic losses to their communities because of reduced ferry schedules and, in one case, the removal of a ferry.  Chairs from the central coast and Haida Gwaii told compelling stories that explained safety concerns and stresses put on the economy because of the reduction of ferries. For the Sunshine Coast, I addressed the schedule and how late ferries were affecting everyone in their trip planning to the point that people are parking their cars and boarding as foot passengers in order to make medical and other appointments. I pointed out that there have been full parking lots on occasion at the terminals on both sides, which is a loss of vehicle fares. The minister felt that many things need to change to improve the effectiveness of all ferry routes, something the chairs’ group has been saying for years. This winter, during upgrades to the Langdale dock, Ministry of Transportation staff will be observing the hourly ferry runs on the Langdale/Horseshoe Bay route, to see if this hourly system could work on a year-round basis in the future.

Please contact me at 604-741-2427 or e-mail me at garry.nohr@scrd.ca if you wish to discuss SCRD programs or plans.

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