Fair Ferry

Janina Stajic

Monday, November 25 2013

I don’t want to wade too deeply into the murky waters of the BC Ferries cuts in a short editorial as there are far too many layers, but I do want to address what I feel is a key issue. When the big wigs from BC Ferries and the provincial government gathered around their table and examined their spreadsheets my guess is they only looked at the numbers (and very carefully avoided any numbers that might have affected them directly – CEO salary anyone?). 

The thing that bothers me in this whole situation is that it’s fairly clear to me that they don’t know what the stories are behind those numbers. Sure, the last two ferries of the evening might have lower ridership than other runs and in the spirit of compromise I’m willing to give up the 11:30 sailing. But not the 10:25. Because this ferry isn’t just a means of getting from point a to point b – it actually contributes to shaping the very nature of our island. Why? Because of who those numbers represent. Here’s a random sampling:

· high school students coming home from sports events or shifts at part-time jobs

· commuters staying late for a meeting

· musicians playing at off-island gigs

· shift-workers

· people taking in the theatre, movies or patronizing Nanaimo restaurants

Anyone else see a theme here?

 The majority of those taking the late night ferry are our young people and working families. 

If that ferry gets cut many of those people could potentially move away – it will certainly discourage others from coming. And that will drastically change the nature of our island. 

But I wonder, really, if this matters to those who hold the power to make these changes. 

As with many things in our world it seems to come down to money and what makes the most financial sense. 

It’s going to take a concerted effort from islanders to demonstrate there is so much more behind those numbers and that these decisions are not just about cutting services, they’re about changing the way of our island life. Fortunately islanders know exactly what it takes to make a concerted effort – so to all my fellow Gabriolans I say a High ho - I’ll see you at the meeting on December 10.