Friday, March 28, 2014

Snapshots from the City's Ferry Study

Most Prince Rupert residents have by now, heard about the City's recently commissioned study into the potential impact of proposed Ferry Cuts on Northern British Columbia.

The basic approach of the Report is to try and secure support across Northern British Columbia to provide for a united effort,  designed to at least postpone the cuts to service until 2015, in order to allow for a proper economic assessment to be conducted on the issue.

The Mayor has taken every opportunity to remind anyone of the body of work and delivering it to visiting Provincial Cabinet Ministers and other municipal officials whenever the moment presents itself.

It's a document that has been introduced in the Legislature and used by the opposition NDP to try and reverse the planned cutbacks to Ferry Service along the coast, an effort that so far hasn't found the Province inclined to divert from their path.

Yet, it's a safe bet, that for the most part, many of us in Prince Rupert haven't actually seen the document yet.

For those that have not had a chance to review any of the talking points from the City study, we offer up a quick snapshot of the 28 page report. Which goes by the title of Beyond Hope - BC Ferries and Northern British Columbia

The Report is divided up into  6 different segments, An Executive Summary, Background, Tourism Impacts, Economic Development Impacts, General Responses and a Conclusion.

While most have probably already heard of much of the background on the cuts, the impacts both in the Tourism Sector and in Economic Development provide the best indications as to how the proposed cuts may affect local communities across Northern British Columbia.

While there were contributions from many communities across Northern British Columbia, all offering up an indication of the importance of the topic far from the ferry docks.

For Prince Rupert residents, some of the thoughts of local business owners and tourism directed industries provide for a good cross section of the concern that cuts are bringing to this community.

The impact on Breakers business will be significant. I would say that BC Ferries adds at least 30 per cent to our business in the summer months. When I schedule servers I will add at least one more, if not two, the night before the ferry leaves. This includes the Haida Gwaii ferry as well -- Breakers Pub

It is a complete mystery why the province does not know or has not considered the importance of the ferry to tourism in the north. It defies the imagination that alternatively the Province does note care and is willingly undercutting the entire industry-- Museum of Northern British Columbia

The projected cuts will likely impact the amount of tourism traffic moving through the Inside Passage, and so will definitely impact the business of the Wilderness Trail. Currently, approximately 70 per cent of our business comes from referrals from local hostels,  whose guest have come up the Inside Passage with BC Ferries a majority of the time. -- Metlaktala Wilderness Trail, Metlakatla First Nation

BC Ferries is a large and valuable customer of ours. Of course with any reduction in service/business in our northern economy, we will be impacted financially. I will have to read and react as these changes in service occur. I do think the northern communities will experience some negative impacts, these reductions in service will bring.--  Rupert Cleaners and Laundry

Those are just a few examples of the concern that local operators have with the prospect of reduced service and the financial impact that could come from it.

The conclusion to the report outlines that the City is in line with those that believe that the province has created an unnecessary crisis and that if the cuts go ahead (as they still appear to be) then serious damage to the Northern BC economy could be the result.

You can review the full report here.

We have more background on issues surrounding BC Ferries on our archive page.

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