Editorial: The province is not giving more money to BC Ferries

Editorial

Tuesday, February 16 2016

The press release islanders would like to see:

“The Province is providing $8 million in funding this year to support infrastructure improvements at B.C. Ferries, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone announced on Wednesday last week.

“The funding comes from the B.C. Coastal Access Program, announced last year as part of the Province’s 10-year transportation plan, B.C. on the Move. 

“The ministry committed $24 million over three years and last year announced $6 million, which funded a dozen projects at ten minor ferry routes throughout the province.

““Applications are now being accepted for this exciting program,” said Stone. “Ferries play a pivotal role in a community’s economic development by providing safe and reliable transportation for residents, tourists, for medical transport, and for keeping cargo flowing. This new funding will help small and regional ferries make critical upgrades and improvements to their infrastructure.”

“Through the program, the ministry shares costs with BC Ferries on projects such as lighting and navigational systems, terminal building expansion or upgrades, and vessel improvements. These types of projects allow BC Ferries to improve safety, accommodate larger vehicles, support more frequent sailings and enable the continued growth of local and provincial economies. 

“The program also encourages funding partnerships with the federal government, local and regional governments and agencies, and the private sector.”

Editor’s Note: the above press release is only semi-fictional. It is based on a press release sent out by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure this past Wednesday, announcing more funding for airports throughout the province of BC.

Not that those communities don’t deserve a piece of the infrastructure pie - but it serves to show MOTI is more than happy to invest in air travel as an economic driver.

Somehow, especially in the last five years, MOTI has missed the message that cuts to sailings from BC Ferries have had a negative impact on local economies.

Ask the Discovery Coast the difference one more year with their ferry route open could have meant. Or one more decade.

If MOTI, and the rest of the provincial government, can recognize the importance airports play in driving the economies, they need to recognize the same for coastal ferries.