Residents in the remote communities of Northwest B.C. will benefit significantly from increases in ferry sailings along its coastal routes.
The B.C. government announced on Feb. 22 that 10 ferry routes along the coast will add a total of 2700 round-trip sailings, as the province moves to restore cuts made in 2014.
Included in those increases are the Port Hardy-Prince Rupert Route, Haida Gwaii-Prince Rupert route and the Skidegate-Alliford Bay route.
“Today’s announcement to reinstate services to 2014 levels is fantastic news for people on the North Coast,” said North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice. “For too long, commuters from Bella Coola to Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii have not received adequate service. I’m delighted to welcome the return of sailings for our coastal communities services by these three critical ferry routes.”
Rice said her email inbox has been flooded with thanks from people living in Haida Gwaii expressing how pleased they with the service increases.
“It’s going to be a big deal for people on Haida Gwaii to go back to having those evening sailings,” she said. “The quality of life will be better, they’ll be able to get to medical appointments and the bank. These are the things that have really been cumbersome for people in Haida Gwaii, particularly in Sandspit.”
Greg Martin, the former mayor of Queen Charlotte, said he spent much of his time as mayor and on council lobbying for restoration to BC Ferries’s level of service.
“It’s a deep sigh of relief after five years of suffering and struggling,” he said. “People would be stranded before, freight would be delayed. People were basically under house arrest.”
The increased service announcement comes as the Ministry of Transportation releases a review on BC Ferries operations by special advisor Blair Redlin.
The report includes the restoration request made by the BC Ferry Advisory Committee. The ministry said in a news release Friday the sailings will be added as early as spring and through the year.
In addition to the northern routes BC Ferries is also increasing service to: Crofton-Vesuvius, Earls Cove-Saltery Bay, Horseshoe Bay-Bowen Island, Powell River-Texada Island, Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island, Campbell River-Quadra Island and Quadra Island-Cortes Island.
B.C.'s #MoT has announced it is increasing service on 10 ferry routes that were cut in 2014, restoring 2,700 round-trip sailings for people living in coastal communities #BCFerries #bcpoli ROUTE DETAILS BELOW: pic.twitter.com/kKAtA1V6XA— Ashley Wadhwani (@ashwadhwani) February 22, 2019
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said this is step two in her efforts to better services for affordable ferry services in smaller coastal communities.
In April 2018, the NDP government reduced fares on smaller and northern routes by 15 per cent, froze fares on other major routes and reinstated the Monday-to-Thursday, 100-per-cent discount for seniors.
With files from Ashley Wadhwani.