Wayne Rowe has been appointed to the B.C. Ferry Authority’s board of directors.
His three-year appointment began April 1 and was announced to the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) in a letter at its April 9 board meeting. The SCRD recommended him to the authority.
“We are very well represented,” said SCRD chair Lori Pratt at the meeting. “It’s nice to have somebody from the Sunshine Coast who has a long history here.”
Rowe, a lawyer,was mayor of Gibsons for two terms beginning in 2011. Before that, he served one term as councillor. He did not seek re-election in 2018.
Rowe will represent the Southern Mainland Appointment Area, which includes the Sunshine Coast.
The independent entity is the owner of BC Ferries. While it has no direct control over BC Ferries’ operations, it’s meant to act as a check on the corporation.
The authority appoints the corporation’s directors and sets compensation packages for officers and executives.
Last year, an amendment to the Coastal Ferry Act expanded the authority’s responsibilities to oversee the strategic direction of BC Ferries in support of public interest, which Rowe told Coast Reporter was a key reason why he applied for the role.
“It was really because of the change of that jurisdiction to have a little more oversight on the long-term strategic direction,” said Rowe, adding he wanted to ensure the authority had “somebody on that board that is at least familiar with our particular area.”
Speaking for himself and not the board, Rowe said that new responsibility remains “a work in progress,” as the authority consults with the province and BC Ferries “as to just how far that particular involvement goes.”
That responsibility has grown more complex as the COVID-19 impact significantly curtails BC Ferries’ operations. According to Rowe, CEO Mark Collins had indicated the corporation was facing daily losses of about $1.5 million. “And that actually is expected to increase as we move into what would normally have been the peak season. Those daily losses will be even substantially more than that.”
While the authority’s directors have no immediate control over operations, the impacts of COVID-19 will be folded into their review of BC Ferries’ long-term strategy, said Rowe.
For example, certain capital projects “probably will have to be evaluated,” he said. “That’s where there would be some role to play by the authority,” as well as the ferry commissioner, since it also has to approve capital projects.
“Ultimately, we want to be certain that down the road the ferry corporation is going to be a viable and functioning operator.”
Of the nine directors on the B.C. Ferry Authority board, Rowe is one of two that have been newly appointed.Marlene Kowalski, interim chief financial officer at Vancouver Island University, was selected to represent the Southern Vancouver Island Appointment Area.
This isn’t the first time a Sunshine Coast resident has served on the board. Sandra Stoddart-Hansen, from Halfmoon Bay, resigned as chair at the end of the last term after reaching her term limit. “We’ve been very well represented by Sandra Stoddart-Hansen,” Pratt said at the April 9 meeting.