NDP MPs call for B.C. Ferries to get access to federal infrastructure funds

Sounder News

Tuesday, December 15 2015

New Democrat MPs from Vancouver Island are calling on Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, to allow B.C. Ferries to access grants under the New Building Canada Fund. 

“B.C. Ferries is a critical transportation link for Island residents but years of dramatic fare increases have had a devastating impact on our coastal communities,” said Murray Rankin, Member of Parliament for Victoria. “The coastal ferry system is a key transportation link like roads and bridges and should be treated the same when it comes to federal infrastructure grants.” 

The NDP wants BC Ferries to be able to access grants to fund capital projects like terminals and new vessels, which should allow the corporation to lower costs and in turn pass on savings through lower fares. 

“The former Conservative government stood by while ferry fares skyrocketed for Island residents, we are reaching out to this new government and asking them to demonstrate an understanding of the challenges facing our coastal communities,” said Rankin. 

Seven New Democrat MPs from Vancouver Island and the North Coast have signed the letter to Minister Sohi, including: Murray Rankin (Victoria), Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkey Valley), Rachel Blaney (North Island-Powell River), Randall Garrison (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke), Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni), Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford), and Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo-Ladysmith).

Malcolmson said the request was, “consistent with the push we’ve had from the local government side for years, that no other form of transit is denied access to even applying for funds, and the BC Ferries should be treated the same as BC Transit and Translink. To truly make a difference on easing the fare crunch coastal ferry users face, we need new provincial government policies. But federal leadership would help take some of the cost pressure off, by helping with capital investments like terminal upgrades and vessel replacement. This does not represent an increase in federal taxes, but simply allows BC ferries to tap into an existing fund.”

According to Infrastructure Canada staff, Minister Sohi is consulting with partners and stakeholders across Canada to discuss changes to the New Building Canada Fund to make it more focused on strategic infrastructure priorities.  

Media representative James Chow said, “It is still too soon to speculate on the specifics and we welcome the advice and perspectives of the Members of Parliament from Vancouver Island and will take them into consideration.”