North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and NDP ferry critic Claire Trevena listen to concerns about BC Ferry service during a meeting in Prince Rupert on Sept. 17.

Prince Rupert residents express concerns about ferry service

More than a dozen community members came out to express their concerns about the impacts ferry fares and reduced service are having.

More than a dozen community members came out to the Highliner Inn on Sept. 17 to express their concerns about the impacts ferry fares and recently reduced service are having on the North Coast.

The meeting, hosted by NDP ferry and transportation critic Claire Trevena and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, touched on everything from the impacts to families, to teams and businesses in Prince Rupert.

The loss of additional sailings and increasing costs to travel between Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii is something Anna Ashley said she has heard about both in her role as a high school coach and as a member of city council.

“The kids from Haida Gwaii can barely ever come off the island for a zone tournament and it costs them a fortune if they can … we can’t take the kids to the island for tournaments and that is a big loss when it comes to that connectedness. It’s not an economic loss, but it is a community loss,” she said, adding the situation was worse this summer when a major paving project took up a lot of available bookings.

“There were people that needed to get off the island for medical treatment and they couldn’t even get on the ferry,” said Ashley, who suggested implementing a maximum for space available for business reservations.

Coun. Nelson Kinney said in addition to lost tourism revenue, he has heard first-hand about the impact ferry fares are having on seniors needing to look south for assistance.

“A lot of our seniors have medical problems and, with the price of the ferry, they just can’t afford it,” he said.

“It’s sad … we’re not being treated right here at all.”

Pointing to the $200 cost to simply walk onto an Inside Passage sailing during the summer, Christy Allen of the Pioneer Backpackers Inn said the loss of business has been substantial as people look for other affordable B.C. adventures.

Trevena’s meeting in Prince Rupert came the day before she boarded a ferry for similar meetings in communities throughout Haida Gwaii.

For more on Trevena’s visit to the North Coast, see Page B1 of this week’s Northern View.