Regional District planning to participate in protest of ferry service cuts

The Skeena — Queen Charlotte Regional District is making sure the provincial government hears North Coast residents loud and clear.

The Skeena — Queen Charlotte Regional District (SQCRD) is making sure the provincial government hears North Coast residents loud and clear when they say BC Ferries sailing cuts are unacceptable.

The board has decided to participate in a protest in January against the planned schedule cuts and have decided to travel down south to approach Premier Christy Clark if the government does not respond to the board’s request for a meeting within a month.

“We need to demonstrate that we’re more than unhappy and that this is a terrible impact on us,” said Queen Charlotte Mayor Carol Kulesha.

The idea of a protest sprouted from Evan Putterill, director of Sandspit, who informed the board of a demonstration the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) will be holding on Jan. 18 and said the SQCRD should join in on the day of action.

The SCRD’s event will see protesters lining Highway 101 at nine different locations, with participants being asked to bring letters they have written along so organizers can pass them along to the Premier.

“If we turn it into a coast-wide protest, it might be more effective,” Putteril said.

“In order to build momentum, [we need to put] our stamp on this. The quicker we get on, the quicker another regional district might get on,” he said.

While the regional district is unsure at this time exactly how it will participate, the board has confirmed it will be partaking in some way. In the meantime, staff has been directed to get in contact with the SCRD to get more information on the protest movement.

Furthermore, Prince Rupert Director Anna Ashley suggested the regional district take a more aggressive approach to get a meeting with Premier Clark.

The SQCRD agreed to write a letter requesting a meeting with Clark on the subject at its last meeting in November, a tactic Ashley said the board has used in the past with little effect.

“If we don’t get an answer soon, we should go down there and knock on the bloody door. Why should we wait for them … when it’s something this important,” Ashley said.

“I’m tired of waiting.”

The board agreed that if it doesn’t hear back about a meeting by the next board meeting in January, members will go down themselves and will invite other coastal regional districts.

The planned sailing reductions were announced in November, with the North Coast seeing the highest number of reductions.

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