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More sailings for Langdale, Siegers calls on Coasters to lobby feds and province

BC Ferries is making another change to the Langdale-Horseshoe Bay schedule “in response to increasing demand.
Foot passengers line up for a Sunday afternoon sailing out of Langdale. BC Ferries is adding two extra round trips on Fridays and Sundays as demand increases.

BC Ferries is making another change to the Langdale-Horseshoe Bay schedule “in response to increasing demand.”

The ferry company announced July 3 that starting on July 10 two round trips would be added to the schedule on Fridays and Sundays – a 4:20 and 6:40 p.m. departure from Langdale and a 3:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. departure from Horseshoe Bay.

BC Ferries is also adding more trips on other busy routes, including Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo.

The addition of more sailings comes as local governments are calling for a return to a full summer schedule and travellers continue to voice frustration online.

In a lengthy post on her Facebook page July 3, Sechelt Mayor Darnleda Siegers asked residents upset with the current level of service, short-notice schedule changes, and problems rebooking reservations to “cut [BC Ferries] some slack.”

“Behind the glitches and the mistakes are humans just like you and I and they are trying as best they can,” she wrote.

But Siegers is also urging Coasters to lobby the province and the federal government for more financial support for BC Ferries.

“BC Ferries needs financial assistance from the provincial and federal government as they are using their capital funds, previously earmarked for the Langdale ferry upgrade and our second ship and other capital expenditures, to cover off their operating costs,” said Siegers.

Siegers also called the $180,000 the provincial government has already committed to keep sailings from being cut on minor routes, including Earls Cove-Saltery Bay, “a drop in the bucket.”

“There is some money earmarked for B.C. from the federal government that will be provided within the next while,” she said. “I’d like to see some of it go to BC Ferries.”

The money Siegers is referring to is part of a $14-billion “safe restart agreement” between Ottawa and the provinces.

West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP Patrick Weiler has also suggested that agreement could be the source of funding to backstop BC Ferries against the financial losses caused by the sudden drop in ridership in the early phase of the pandemic.

“I believe that one of the areas that they want to make sure that funding is going to go towards is transit, which has been very much hit hard by the pandemic similar to BC Ferries, which could also be an option for that funding,” Weiler said during a June 23 update for the Sechelt and District Chamber of Commerce.

In response to Coast Reporter’s inquiry to the premier’s office about the status of the discussions on the safe restart agreement and whether some of the money would be used to support a return to normal service levels on BC Ferries, officials with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure replied that the government is “pleased to see the federal government agreeing to provide much-needed support for a variety of important provincial issues.”

“However, the number and size of programs that have been included in this list is substantial,” the email from the ministry continued. “So we look forward to seeing the details to make sure it can adequately support our recovery efforts.”

On the specific issue of BC Ferries the ministry said, “We know ferries are vital for maintaining the critical supply chain for food, goods and medicine, and for people who live and work on our coast, and continue to work with the federal government on solutions.”