Give back what you took away. That was the message that BC Ferries president and chief executive officer Mark Collins heard loud and clear from Powell River residents and members of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee on his early November visit to the area.
It wasn't much more than a month later that the ferry corporation made the announcement it had wisely decided to reinstate the Wednesday and Saturday afternoon/evening runs between Powell River and Comox that were taken out of the schedule in 2014.
Removing the 3:15 pm sailing from Little River and 5:15 pm from Westview two days a week was one of the most detrimental ferry schedule changes in recent times, sending the community into a logistical tailspin that lasted right up until the runs were reinstated.
Despite the claim and justification by BC Ferries at the time that those sailings were identified as low on traffic, countless travelers were left stranded, either on this side or the other, after forgetting the essential afternoon/evening runs had been removed from the schedule.
Over the past three-plus years, how many times did local residents face that awful feeling of realization that the next boat after the 11:50 am wasn't going to leave until 8:45 pm, or that they would be stuck over in the Comox Valley for several hours waiting for the last ferry home?
Reinstating the afternoon/evening runs was the first of many steps in order for BC Ferries to begin to mend its relationship with this area.
With a provincial review of BC Ferries' coastal service happening this month and a new president on board who is showing he cares about how previous decisions have affected the community, many residents are hopeful that more positive change is to come. A trial route from Texada Island to Comox has also been planned.
Part of the government review is to determine whether BC Ferries is meeting the needs of coastal communities such as ours, and most who live here would answer a resounding "no" to that question, for a variety of reasons.
High fares with no resident discount, paying both ways to travel to Vancouver Island and inefficient schedules are just three of the most common and valid complaints. The hope is that the review will address these concerns and others.
Yes, we got our sailings back, but there are still so many improvements to be made to the coastal ferry system.
Jason Schreurs, publisher/editor