Letter: Bridge vs BC Ferries discussion

Tuesday, March 1 2016

Dear Editor;

There has possibly been an overlooked dimension to the on Island discussion of what might be the motivation of those seeking to escape the tyranny of BC Ferries. Lets be honest, BC Ferries has been and is a monopoly transport provider to Island communities such as Gabriola Island. 

The record of rate increases by BC Ferries is without a doubt the most tangible example of the operation of a monopoly. More than 5 years ago we asked the Chief Financial Officer of BC Ferries several questions. First, why does BC Ferries not use variable fares to help move peak travel to off peak periods? This practice has existed with transportation providers for hundreds of years. At the time he said no. Second, we asked if we found operating savings for our route, specifically, would we see a commensurate savings in our fares? He answered no. Thirdly, we asked if we could be exempt of advertising expenses incurred by BC Ferries in their attempt to run their service like a ocean cruise line. The answer was no. Fourthly,on several occasions requests were made for specific operating expense data so that informed representations might be crafted and made. The answer was no or silence, even from the BC Ferries Commissioner. Fifthly ,we asked that BC Ferries be held the rate increase of provincial inflation, exactly as is the case for the highway maintenance contracts throughout the province. The answer from BC Ferries and the BC government was no. Premier Clark and her team were the inventors of the “no” world.

This form of tyranny is not restricted to BC Ferries but also includes BC Hydro, ICBC and Medicare. Much like elsewhere on the planet, where people are experiencing victimisation, individuals starting to look for ways of escaping the yokes. On Gabriola Island some folks are doing something about their dependence upon BC Hydro with installation of solar panels and great pumps. It will very likely not stop there. 

A bridge or a community owned and operated ferry are two practical ways for passionately independent minded individuals to escape the tyranny of BC Ferries.

Here on Gabriola Island, those of us with a strong desire for independence express it in many ways, but the most powerful recent one was the construction of the Gabriola Community Clinic. BC Ferries removed the option for late night emergency trips to the emergency ward at Nanaimo Regional Hospital so people here dug deep and deliberately, without the help of the Provincial Government, built a wonderful facility.

This does not seem a difficult condition to understand and the escape from the abundant tyranny of others will never happen if people leave it to political parties to bring about meaningful reforms. That is probably why the British are taking the opportunity to exit the European Common Market, there are enough folks there who are tired of taking directions and rules from those folks in Brussels.

Sincerely, Erik Andersen