There was a widely held view that the government’s consultation process presented to our community at the Public Open House on November 13 failed to address fundamental concerns about the governance, management and delivery of ferry services to Gabriola Island. Many attending the consultation found the approach and the process to be fundamentally flawed, both in its failure to address specific short term options for change and the lack of any opportunity to examine the underlying service delivery model.
As a result of that failure the Ferry Advisory Committee, in partnership with Sustainable Gabriola, arranged a further community consultation on December 10 to gain a clearer understanding of the broader issues around the delivery of ferry services to Gabriola. This event was attended by island residents and local elected representatives including our Island Trustees, RDN Director, a Nanaimo City Councillor, our MLA and a representative from MOTI. It is important to note that the FAC as it is currently set up could not have undertaken this consultation on its own. We are deeply thankful to Sustainable Gabriola for their collaborative support.
Our submission to government reflects the views expressed at both the Provincial Open House event and the Community Consultation. It sets out a series of recommendations which have been adopted by The Ferry Advisory Committee in its role as community liaison on local ferry issues.
We cannot emphasise too strongly how disappointed the community feels with the Provincial Government’s failure to acknowledge the inequity of treatment to coastal communities and the economic and financial hardship that has resulted. Even this week, the Minister’s press statement Promise made, Promise delivered : Transportation Sector failed to make any reference to the Ministry’s role as custodian of coastal ferry services, claiming a focus on “keeping the economy strong … while making life more affordable for British Columbians”. Neither statement could be further from the truth when it comes to our ferry-dependent coastal communities.
The Ferry Advisory Committee endorses the recommendations contained in this joint submission with Sustainable Gabriola. We know that not everyone will support every recommendation. However, the role of the FAC is to communicate the views of the wider community and as such, we believe that the recommendations are consistent with that objective. We commend the need for a fundamental review of the service delivery model and emphasise the willingness of the FAC to actively participate in any such review. In the short term, we strongly urge the government to conduct a further detailed consultation with our community before any service adjustments to our local ferry services are determined.
The full report and FAC/SG Ferry Submission including recommendations for shaping the future of our ferry services is available for download.