Local officials are hoping for a chance to pitch the idea of a passenger-only ferry service on the Sunshine Coast to Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom this fall.
The 2012 Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention takes place Sept. 24 to 28 in Victoria where directors from the Sunshine Coast Regional District hope to make their pitch to Lekstrom.
“We’ve got 20 minutes to sell it,” advised Halfmoon Bay director Garry Nohr during a committee meeting last week. “I think it needs to really hammer away at the rationale of why we feel strongly that we want it.”
On June 7, the SCRD infrastructure services committee (ISC) resolved to have staff work alongside Coastal municipalities to prepare briefing notes for a delegation.
Both the Town of Gibsons and the District of Sechelt passed resolutions in support of lobbying the provincial government and B.C. Ferries for passenger service.
At this month’s ISC, talk of organizing a delegation became focused on the possibility of having time with Lekstrom in September.
“It’s going to happen over a period of years,” said Roberts Creek director Donna Shugar of the idea. “But to present it, including the list of problems that need to be addressed, suggesting that this is a possible solution and asking the current government to explore it, I think has value.”
Gibsons director Coun. Gerry Tretick had stepped in to say he was worried that talk about a passenger-only ferry service had become too focused on the popular solution.
A staff report noted strong public support, measured by local letters to the editor that have been published in recent months by Coast Reporter.
“It may not work,” he said. “You lose the game by proposing something that’s not feasible.”
But Shugar’s idea of holding the meeting at UBCM caught on with the other directors, including Tretick. A staff recommendation to schedule a meeting with Lekstrom was amended to specifically target the convention.
ISC chair and Pender Harbour/Egmont director Frank Mauro echoed Tretick’s call for caution and requested of staff “the best preview notes we can get by that time regarding the process of determining the needs and determining what the service should be.
“I think that a meeting asking for a solution isn’t going to go far,” he added.
Nohr advised that a possible strategy might be to offer Lekstrom a specific proposal, something the minister’s staff could sink their teeth into.
“There’s got to be more meat to it. That’s all I’m saying,” Nohr added.
West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull agreed that reasons a passenger-only ferry might be needed, including present gaps in service, should lead the charge in their push.
“What I think we need to do is collect the issues and present that to the minister,” she said, highlighting the needs of commuters in particular.