BC Ferries operates along the marine highways of B.C. coastal communities and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is making sure that the organization gets the federal funding it deserves.
Having written a letter to Canadian Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, Cullen and six other NDP MPs in B.C. notified Minister Sohi that leaving BC Ferries out of the New Building Canada Fund would be a sizable mistake.
“A lot of my colleagues wrote to the minister this just [last] week about allowing infrastructure money to go into making BC Ferries more affordable and stronger for the North Coast and for many of our communities that rely on ferry service, by our reading of the government’s intentions, BC Ferries should be able to [receive some funding], but it’s going to take a little bit of a push,” Cullen noted last week.
In a release Cullen sent out, the MP said that high increases to fares for northern B.C. residents wanting to use BC Ferries has put a strain on those passengers’ finances. A larger federal boost to BC Ferries by the new Liberal Government of Canada would go a long way in relieving that financial strain that customers have taken on through higher fares.
“BC Ferries has been criticized for passing on dramatic ferry increases to B.C. residents, which has had a devastating impact on many coastal communities,” Cullen and his fellow MPs wrote in the letter.
“The proposed change could make an enormous difference … This kind of funding would reduce cost pressures as BC Ferries renews its fleet and develops terminals and faces other capital costs,” he wrote.
Along with pressuring the government for more funding for BC Ferries, Cullen offered insight into where discussions may be going in regards to the stalled Alaska Marine Highway negotiations between the Canadian government and the U.S. over upgrading the Prince Rupert terminal, which is in disrepair.
“We’re hoping for a reset on that. I’ve spoken very briefly to the new minister who’s just getting caught up and doesn’t really have a lot of depth on the file yet, but I’m hopeful that the conversations that I had with the U.S. ambassador and some of the officials in Alaska, that we can get back to resolving this,” he said.
“There are a few options that are being explored including even moving the terminal to Lax Kw’alaams if we need it to got that far, but I don’t think it does.”
The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) recently announced it has proposed remaining at two sailings per week for next summer out of Prince Rupert.