System has to be affordable

Staff writer
January 31, 2014 01:00 AM

The following letter was sent to Premier Christy Clark and copied to Coast Reporter.

Dear Premier Clark:

As a resident of Gibsons, on the Sunshine Coast, of course I'm unhappy with the direction BC Ferries has been taking. You must understand, however, that cuts in service and increases in fares have a ripple effect on the economy as a whole, not only that of coastal communities.

In decades past W.A.C. Bennett created BC Ferries as part of a transportation system that would encourage economic development on the B.C. coast. To do this the system had to be affordable and subsidized by taxpayers province-wide.

When a huge percentage of ferry costs are borne by the passengers our economy gets strangled. Fewer tourists come here. Food and other commodities begin to cost more. Working families leave. Local businesses cannot thrive. And we residents take fewer trips to Vancouver and beyond.

I recently became old enough to qualify for the free ferry fares Monday through Thursday. Now, I wouldn't mind being charged for my weekday trips if it weren't for the BC Ferries CEOs becoming millionaires on their bloated salaries and folks of all ages in the Interior getting free ferry service. And what about the top-heavy management - one manager for every six employees, at a cost of $70 million a year, according to the ferry workers union? Sounds like too many chiefs to me!

To say we "chose to live here" is a spurious argument. People here work in the fishing, logging, and pulp and paper industries that have been the backbone of B.C.'s economy. If all those workers went elsewhere, not only would they probably be unemployed, but the local businesses would go belly-up. We are all interdependent.

Anne Miles, Gibsons

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