Petition calls on transportation ministry to take back control of BC Ferries
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, March 12, 2018 6:45PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, March 12, 2018 6:46PM PDT
There's a renewed push to put BC Ferries back under government control, but the province doesn't appear to be on board.
Supporters including BC Green MLA Adam Olsen dropped off a petition with more than 16,000 signatures at the legislature in Victoria Monday afternoon.
The petition is calling on the Ministry of Transportation to once again take control of BC Ferries, which is currently independently managed but still owned by the province.
"People who live in my riding in Saanich North and the Islands, who live on the Gulf Islands, would consider BC Ferries as part of their highway structure, part of their marine infrastructure," said Olsen.
"I think that the goal of bringing ferries back into the government…would be that it'd be deemed as another part of our highway system, that it's not adding an extra charge for British Columbians who live in coastal communities, who live in ferry-dependent communities."
Supporter Jim Abram, Director of the Strathcona Regional District, said it's time to treat the ferry system like the highway that it is.
"Huge management structure. It has a board, it has a commissioner's office, it has a whole bunch of people that don't need to be there. If it was in the ministry it'd be run by the ministry…just like the Interior ferries are," he said.
Before 2003, BC Ferries was a Crown corporation run by the government similar to ICBC or BC Hydro.
But once the BC Liberals were elected into power, they moved the company that was drowning in debt and fresh off the fast ferries scandal to its current management model.
Asked about it Monday, the NDP seemed content to keep BC Ferries at arm's length.
"To be honest, the governance side isn't something that really motivates people, they want to make sure that it is accessible and affordable," said B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.
BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said the company also believes the current model works well.
"The province has control over ferry service policy as well as service levels, and then BC Ferries is able to run the day-to-day operation of the company," said Marshall.
BC Ferries is the largest ferry service in North America with more than 3,000 employees .
The company is currently under a comprehensive government review aimed at improving service, but will focus on operational adjustments instead of a complete overhaul.