An extensive operational review of BC Ferries is planned, but details of what it will look at are few, according to Powell River Regional District Electoral Area C director Colin Palmer.
Palmer sat down with BC minister of transportation and infrastructure Claire Trevena as Powell River’s representative of Coastal Communities Regional District Chairs to talk about ferries on November 21.
It was the first meeting of the chairs with the NDP government, and similar to the recent Union of BC Municipalities meeting, it was quite a different experience, said Palmer.
“It was a totally different kind of meeting,” he added. “I wasn't disappointed.”
Trevena said her government’s priority is to ensure BC Ferries serves people living and working in coastal communities.
“This is why, as part of my mandate, we will be undertaking a comprehensive operating review of BC Ferries,” said Trevena. “I do not want to predetermine the outcome of the review at this point. The review will focus on identifying opportunities to make the ferry system work effectively for all British Columbians, in particular, for residents who depend on this critical transportation link.”
Six of the 14 regional district chairs attended the meeting. Palmer said that top of their agenda was to find out whether the provincial government planned to repeal the Coastal Ferries Act, legislation that allows BC Ferries to act as a pseudo-private company, not directly controlled by the provincial government, but regulated by a ferry commissioner.
Palmer said the chairs, with the exception of the Islands Trust, support the government to repeal the act and bring the ferries back under the control of the province.
"We think everyone should share in the cost of ferries, just like roads," he said.
While Trevena did not provide many details about the government’s planned review of BC Ferries, she did indicate that it will take an extensive look at how it operates, said Palmer.
Once complete, Palmer does not expect the review to be released to the public.
Palmer added that the NDP cannot make any substantive changes to the way the ferry system operates until Trevena is able to walk into the legislature with a developed plan.