Committee members resign over BC Ferries service cuts to Hornby, Denman islands
DENMAN ISLAND -- Disappointed with what they say is a lack of public consultation over upcoming cuts to ferry service, four members of the BC Ferries Denman Island-Hornby Island Advisory Committee have handed in their resignations to the ferry operator.
The committee members say they were blindsided Friday by cuts to ferry service between Buckley Bay and Denman Island, as well as between Denman Island and Hornby Island, planned for mid-month.
"This cut would take out key runs in the middle of the day and Friday nights and there's almost zero savings," says former committee member Daniel Arbour.
"We understand crews would still get paid so we do not understand where BC Ferries is coming from on this,” he said.
Arbour is a director on the Comox Valley Regional District as well as various transportation committees and he says islanders are already sharing their anger about the change. He says the cuts are the same ones the province introduced in 2014.
He says Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has been silent on the issue but he's hopeful the decision will be reversed by the end of the week.
The four former members say the cuts will adversely affect tourism traffic as well as interfere with several large construction projects currently underway on the two islands.
On Monday, BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall called the resignations unfortunate but said the cuts are necessary to save money during the pandemic.
"We are looking at our costs throughout the system, no matter how big or small, and we are having to go down to core service levels on a number of our routes," Marshall told CTV News.
BC Ferries is currently losing $1 million a day and the Buckley Bay-Denman Island-Hornby Island route is only running at 27 per cent capacity, she said.
Another representative who stood down is Hornby Island fire Chief Doug Chinnery who fears the midday cuts will affect first responders.
"Losing a midday sailing means that any call-out that happens just prior to that missing sailing results in a four-hour call,” Chinnery said.
"We are a small, rural, volunteer department and having that four-hour call means that they either can't do it or it becomes a real onerous job.
Chinnery said the committee was notified of the cuts on the same day other communities had their full schedules reintroduced after the COVID-19 slowdown.
BC Ferries has not yet announced the cuts to the public.
Denman resident Vali Majd created a Facebook page where local residents have been expressing their displeasure with the cuts as well as the way they are being introduced.
He says residents are applauding the resignations and calling for the rest of the board to step down in protest as well.
"It doesn't make sense that you're penny-pinching, cutting one route back and forth and it's just another one of those measures where we're not sure what it brings them but it really chokes us out," Majd said.
Arbour said he recently asked BC Ferries for more consultation on routes, which is why this recent decision was so disappointing.
"Two months ago, I asked that BC Ferries increase the consultation with communities and instead they shut the door,” he said.