NDP was supposed to get stuck with ferries problem

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News Editor

Monday, December 2 2013

While gulf islanders certainly have been known to have polarized discussions on a variety of issues, when it comes to dealing with outside forces, they’re just like a close-knit family.

That whole nobody-gets-to-fight-with-my-brother-except-me attitude.

The ferry changes are certainly proving that, but the family is expanding to include all coastal communities, with a big target painted on the provincial government. Deservedly so.

This is a government which is clearly dealing with a ferry issue it thought would be free of after the provincial election held this past May.

An election hardly anyone, probably including most of the Liberal Party members, thought the Liberal party would win.

The Liberals spent two years in a consultation process which, seen in hindsight, might as well have been designed to be able to hand off a massive mess of a ferry situation to the NDP. Now the Liberals are scrambling to meet the Ferry Commissioner’s targets and they’re doing so by throwing darts without knowing what dart board they’re playing on.

Look at the complete lack of any real consultation with communities. Plenty of tax dollars spent going around and ‘listening’ to coastal communities, but very little in the way of actual problem solving.

Give us the problem. Islanders will solve it. 

We don’t expect anyone else to get it done for us.

The provincial government should have come to islanders two years ago and said to Gabrolans, “find a way to save $400,000 a year on your route,” and provided us with a breakdown of what the costs were to operate our route. We’d have had plenty of meetings and sent back a proposal that saved well over the $400K. We’d have also asked those savings be put in to the Gabriola route, cutting fares down a few notches.

Not only would islanders have likely been able to find the savings in the route, by doing so we would have save the province the cost of running these non-functional consultation meetings to boot.

Instead, no chance has been given to the everyday users of the system (not even our locally elected officials) to try and come up with an alternative to what has been put on the table.

To paraphrase Ferry Advisory Committee Chair John Hodgkins, coastal communities have been asked to make a supper out of a dog’s breakfast.