Thursday, September 25, 2014

Discussion on BC Ferries issues highlights gap between Province and coastal communities

Wednesday delivered a bit of a Whistler stand off to the UBCM convention, as the Provincial Government and municipal representatives attending Wednesday's session seemed to be on very different sides of a contentious debate over Ferry service on coastal BC.

By the time that the mid week festivities came to an end, the distance between the Province's position and that of coastal communities would appear to be about as wide as the travel distance on the Northern Expedition between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert.

One of the main discussion points for the convention was the anticipated review of the UBCM commissioned report on BC Ferries, a policy paper which examined the socio economic impacts of the Ferry Fare increases and the impact of them on coastal communities.

It was a document that more or less set the stage for Wednesday's showdown at the convention between delegates and the provincial government, with few surprised at how the day evolved.

Even before the issue came to the convention floor in Whistler, the province appeared to be telegraphing their talking points on the topic, suggesting that the UBCM were working with a flawed document, rejecting the findings of the author.

The Transportation Minister outlined his thoughts on the report through a letter to the UBCM president on September 19th. Looking to set the table for the convention, in the letter, Mr. Stone expressed his disappointment that the UBCM had not taken a leadership role in facilitating discussion on the issue.

When convention week started up on Monday, the pushback on the UBCM study continued

BC Ferries won't get more government subsidies: Todd Stone
Transportation Minister, critics disagree on ferry ridership analysis
Analyst stands by report on ferry fares impact
UBCM call for ferry changes a long shot
Victoria, municipalities trade insults and dollar figures

As the day's events moved along on Wednesday afternoon, it became rather clear that despite the unanimous endorsement of the concerns of the municipalities from the delegates, the Provincial government was planning to stick to its course on the Ferry transportation issue.

The vast difference of opinion on the topic, is easily reviewed through the surge of media items related to the Ferries issue that were created once the day's discussions, such as they were, came to an end.

Transportation Minister rejects call for ferry-fare rollbacks, restoration of service to 2013 levels
Cities Reject Minister's Proposal they help pay for BC Ferries
Stone rejects fare rollback at BC Ferries
UBCM ferry report makes for awkward talks
Transportation Minister, critics disagree on ferry ridership analysis
Civic politicians want BC Ferry rates reduced
Transportation Minister promises to keep BC Ferries fare hike in line with inflation
No plans to roll back ferry fares or services, transportation minister says
UBCM upset as B. C. blows off talks on uncertain municipal finances

For more items of interest on developments with BC Ferries see our archive page

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