I Live Here - stop the cuts to BC Ferries

From CoastalFerryCuts.com:

A MANIFESTO FOR ISLANDERS: BC’s rich and storied maritime heritage is about to be scuttled by something as inelegant as bad management. 

No matter how hard the gov’t tries to ignore it, BC Ferries does not operate in a vacuum. Almost 20% of the province’s population live in ferry dependent communities making up over 35% of BC’s tax revenues. And for every slice the gov’t gouges out of BC Ferries, that piece of the tax pie grows smaller as coastal community members flee from the cuts. BC’s maritime rich and storied heritage is about to be scuttled by something as uncolourful as bad management.

"Funding for the ferry system is not a 'subsidy,' but a legitimate government contribution to essential provincial infrastructure. Ferry users have put in $5 billion (vs the Province's $1billion over the past ten years, and users are already paying 85% of operating costs; to call the provincial contribution a subsidy and to say ferry users aren't paying their own way is unfair and untrue." (islandstrust)

It is time for BC Ferries to get out from under its 650 managers with their $64 million paycheque and head on back to highways where the capital costs of the ferries can be fairly shared amongst all the citizens of BC. Before the howling begins, remember that coastal communities pay for the Sea-to-Sky Highway, they pay for snowplows on the Coquihalla, they pay for bridges and tunnels and they even pay for all those interior ferries, too.

What? Interior ferries? Yup, the $20 M per year, fresh water fleet that costs users zip, nada, nuthin’ to cross lakes encircled by highways. Island life might well be idyllic but they’re as populated by hardworking, taxpaying, community-minded folks as anywhere else in this province and islanders have as much right to live where they were born, where they were raised or where they choose to raise their families as anyone living up a mountain or at the edge of flood plain.

Geez, if you read the original press release from when BC Ferries was pushed out of the nest, you’d think anyone would be crazy NOT to live in a coastal community. “The new (BC Ferry) structure will help ensure services are delivered on time and on budget. It will create a vibrant, properly managed ferry system that improves customer service, creates new jobs for coastal communities, ensures stable rates and is sustainable for the future,” Min. of Transport Judith Reid said way back in Dec. 2002. Oh, how this new structure was going to re-energize coastal communities!

Reid said a revitalized ferry system would mean:
• Improved service and customer choice
• Guaranteed service levels and fair rates
• An independent regulator to protect the public interest
• Economic development and job creation
• Public ownership of ferry terminals
• No new public debt
• Ongoing accountability.

The coastal communities have been bleeding from the shards of the Liberal’s broken promises for years now; these cuts may well be the final coup de grace.

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