Include public at the start of the ferry service changes consultation

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News Editor

Tuesday, August 13 2013

So the provincial government has once again put out to have yet another consultant company come in to figure out exactly what each community wants to see happen with their individual ferry run, as well as the overall ferry system.

Perhaps not.

The way this bid reads online (click here to view the bid requirements) it looks more and more like the government is hiring these consultants to give communities someone to rant and rave at.

Yes - there is a requirement the consulting company who takes on this thankless (and very unpleasant) contract will be required to hold 30 to 40 meetings in coastal communities to hear what people have to say in person.

But the public feedback will be taken at the tail end of the process - so once again (like last year) the public will be told what is going to happen, and likely then told it’s too late to make changes.

This needs to be a two-fold public engagement process. One where the consultants pitch actual, concrete ideas on service changes (specific to the route in question) at public meetings at the start of the process. Let the public provide feedback on those specific service change proposals.

Then go away, with the feedback from the specific community, and come back with re-formatted ideas which balance the government’s recommendations and the community’s feedback.

Coming in at the tail end, rather than including the public at the start of the process, insults those who make the coastal communities their homes and treats islanders like children who need to be given options of one.