BC Conservatives protest unfair hikes in ferry fares

News Release March 11, 2017


The time has come for major improvements of ferry services in British Columbia, the B.C. Conservative Party says, hinting at proposals to come for several reforms.

The publication Saturday (March 11) of historical data showing a sharp rise in B.C. Ferries fares proves anew that the people and businesses in ferry-dependent communities are being mistreated by the cynical policies of the B.C. Liberal Party government, the party said in a news release.

It cited a study from the Southern Gulf Islands Ferry Advisory Committee which was reported on in the Vancouver Sun by columnist Stephen Hume and included a graph showing that ferry fare increases had risen many times more than the rate of inflation since about 2004. (See Stephen Hume’s article.)

“Ferry services are a key and even critical part of the lives of about one million people on B.C.’s coast but they and those services have been harmed by the cynical political ploys being played by the Campbell and Clark Liberal regimes,” said BCCP president Corbin Mitchell, who speaks for the party in the absence of an elected leader.

“The new study provides more proof that the B.C. Liberals have been favoring regions where their voter support is high and punishing regions where it is low – namely the coastal ferry-dependent communities whose residents have no viable alternative to B.C. Ferries,” said Mitchell, noting that other modes of transportation such as rapid transit and buses are being heavily subsidized in Liberal-supporting cities while ferries have been operated on a full-cost-recovery-from-fares basis quite unlike public-sector ferry services in other jurisdictions.

“It’s bad enough that ferry fares in B.C. have soared far above the rate of inflation and some services have been cut or even cancelled but it’s even worse when such policies depress the economy, kill jobs and make lives more difficult for a great many citizens and business operators,” said BCCP treasurer Bob Bray, who also chairs the party’s platform committee.

Bray noted the Hume column cites a B.C. Chamber of Commerce claim that the ferry-dependent regions of B.C. contribute 36 per cent of the province’s tax revenues but receive only 6 per cent of its transportation spending, and that in that period the provincial government also extracted $500 million from B.C. Ferries in dividends and interest payments.

“The Liberals should be ashamed of that partisan discrimination but since they seem to have no shame it’s yet another sign that it’s time for a change on May 9,” said BCCP policy and communications director John Twigg, noting that the pattern of abusive partisan-based mismanagement of a key public asset also is being seen in several other Crown corporations, in the recent provincial budget and especially in the ploys from the Liberals’ taxpayer-funded propaganda machine that has been pumping out a stream of costly advertisements in a blatant bid to steal an election win they don’t deserve.

“The Liberals have been augmenting the ferry fleet lately with a few new vessels built offshore and arriving just in time for showing off during the election campaign but for years they have been neglecting the needs of people and businesses using the system,” said Twigg, noting that the B.C. Conservatives during the election campaign will announce some major proposals to improve ferry services.

Bray noted the party’s platform includes a plank to rebalance ferry fares and try to reduce them by 5 per cent while Twigg said the party might also propose things like some new routes and new services and examine related issues such as improving the general management of inshore waters.

“B.C.’s coastal communities, industries and natural resources should be seen as assets to be cherished, protected, improved on and developed, not simply as cash cows to be drained for other short-term political purposes elsewhere,” said Twigg, promising that more details of the innovative proposals will be revealed during the campaign.

The party is intending to run numerous candidates in the election and will announce its first official nominee in a central island constituency on Monday, March 13.

For further information call John Twigg at 778-348-0747 or email john@johntwigg.com.