A consulting firm in Vancouver is being paid $593,370 by the provincial government to carry out community consultations related to the coastal ferry service.
Kirk & Co. Consulting was awarded the contract following a request for proposals (RFP) that was issued by the Ministry of Trans-portation and Infra-structure (MOTI) in June.
Several requests for comment from the company’s president, Judy Kirk, were unsuccessful.
What the community engagement process will look like remains unclear; however, the process is expected to begin “later this summer” and involve both on-line and in-person activities.
The June RFP announced that the Ministry would be seeking a consultant to assist them “to design, develop, implement and summarize a community engagement program that will increase public knowledge and solicit public input.”
According to MOTI, the value of the contract also covers travel expenses and meeting rooms.
Barry Cavens, chair of the local Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC), said he too was unaware of what community engagement might look like or how Coasters will be expected to share their input.
“I would encourage the local governments, local organizations and individuals to come forward in this process and make sure that the concerns and the aspirations of the Sunshine Coast are dealt with,” he said.
As of yet, Cavens said the FAC had not been contacted regarding the announcement.
He expressed optimism at the prospect of having the Coast’s concerns listened to.
“Success will be how active an input they get from the communities,” Cavens said. “This is an opportunity to change the service levels on the Sunshine Coast, for a long time in the future. This opportunity’s not going to come along often.”
The FAC chair said he hoped residents would participate in the process by expressing their concerns and following them up in writing.
That way, he said, the result will be based on the “meaningful input” of Coasters, rather than prescriptive mandate from government.
“I think in the next couple weeks we’re going to get something from the Ministry or the consultant in terms of what the details might be,” he said. “I’m encouraged by it.”