Sechelt Mayor Darnelda Siegers took to social media over the weekend, following the announcement on April 30, to condemn the behaviour of some Sunshine Coast residents and asked for those who support a trial to contact her. BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins had said the cancellation was in response to “divisive” public feedback, and conversations had “not been pleasant.”
“I am disappointed,” Siegers wrote on Facebook. “Yes, I am disappointed that BC Ferries is pulling the trial of the new service model they had proposed for this summer but, most of all, I am disappointed and, truthfully, disgusted by the behaviour I saw from some of the residents of the Sunshine Coast.”
She said there had been bullying toward those in support of the trial, and that a lot of comments via Facebook and email were “uninformed.”
Comments on her post reiterated concerns residents had with the proposed trial, and a desire from some to see a second ferry and resident priority on Route 3. While some comments thanked the mayor for her work, others were critical of her statements and efforts to continue a trial.
Prior to the response from Sunshine Coast residents, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), Town of Gibsons and District of Sechelt had endorsed the BC Ferries trial. On Monday, May 3, heads of the other two local governments told Coast Reporter that they too were disappointed by the cancellation of the trial.
SCRD board chair Lori Pratt said it was unfortunate Route 3 won’t see a new trial.
“I am disappointed that they chose to cancel the trial,” Pratt said. “I would have liked to have seen some adjustment done to the trial, to fit with the feedback that was coming through from the community along with some additional consultation to look at ways of maximizing efficiency on our route, seeing as we are a number of years away from getting another ferry or more sailings on this route.”
She added that communication about the trial could have been better, as residents raised concerns about elements of the trial and felt “blindsided.”
Gibsons Mayor Bill Beamish also said it’s unfortunate that this season of ferry service will not see a trial.
“I’m disappointed the trial was cancelled. In a way I think that we’re not going to have an opportunity to see if it would have made a difference, if any of the elements that they proposed would make a difference,” Beamish said.
“But that being said,” he added, “I appreciate the community’s position on it. I think BC Ferries might have missed one step, and that is not going to the public before with the results of the consultation that had been done prior, and prior to a plan to implement.”
Beamish said he’s waiting to see what happens next.
“I think that if BC Ferries is listening, and they truly want to engage, I think that next step is for them to re-engage with the public and move forward. But my thinking is that given the timing, and given the rushed nature of the proposal, they’re probably not going to get that in for this season.”