Even a cursory look at the third-quarter results of BC Ferries’ fiscal year is enough to show that whatever capital and operational plans were in place prior to the pandemic are certain to be shaken up once we’re on the other side.
It also reveals the power of local politics to force swift action – in this case to the tune of a $308-million injection of federal-provincial bailout money.
Local leaders, concerned about their constituents’ safe and regular passage to the mainland during the pandemic, pushed for that bailout. And they got their wish.
Thanks to that lifeline, BC Ferries actually outstripped its third-quarter results from 2019 by almost $90 million, as Carla Wilson reports on page 12. Without those funds, the corporation would be sunk – a conclusion sobering enough to make that long-suffering fixed link idea not sound so bad, after all.
In fact, with those third-quarter results now might be the time to really, really rethink that idea.
First, let’s start with trash.
When the lockdown hit in March an unforeseen problem bubbled to the surface on the Sunshine Coast. At the time, Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) chair Lori Pratt said “the rapidly rising use of sanitizing and disposable wipes amid the COVID-19 crisis” was already impacting local sewer systems.
A year later and the unprecedented conversion of personal protective equipment into trash is downright mind-boggling.
Vitacore, a B.C. business offering the first end-to-end face-mask recycling program in the country, estimated more than 60,000 tons of single-use masks would be used in Canada in 2020. Even worse: “as many as 1.5 billion improperly disposed masks could end up in the world’s oceans this year.”
It’s a daunting figure, considering the SCRD is already planning to ban food waste, paper and cardboard from the landfill as it races to find a suitable location for a new dump before the current one’s 2026 expiration date. (Here’s looking at you Halfmoon Bay.)
So let’s put it all together: an eye-watering accumulation of pandemic garbage, a massive bailout keeping an essential route to the mainland afloat, and a landfill about to expire.
Rather than site a new landfill in the industrial lands of Halfmoon Bay, why not gather up that trash and funnel it down to Area B’s boat ramp instead?
The SCRD could redirect its landfill reserve fund to ship trash down to Langdale and deposit it in one neat, fixed line all the way to Horseshoe Bay.
Heck, maybe Lehigh Materials could even kick in a few gravel shipments to keep the stuff in place.
Call it the COVID causeway. The pandemic pass over, the fixed link stink.
Who wouldn’t consider it a fine local legacy to put a stamp on a sordid year?