Members of the Gabriola Ferry Working Group held a productive meeting with BC Ferries staff on March 12th. We presented community feedback to the recent ferry schedule proposals, which are due to take effect April 28.
Based on the response from BC Ferries, it seems likely that Gabriola’s ferry service will run from at least 5:40 am to 11:00 pm Monday to Friday, 6:40 am-11:00 pm Saturday and 6:40 am-10:30 pm Sunday. We want to reassure islanders that it seems the new schedule will be much more workable than the damaging and alarming Provincial government service cuts announced last November.
The Working Group has suggested a number of additional modifications to the BC Ferries response to help minimise the impact on existing ferry users. Those suggestions will now be examined by BC Ferries, who plan to announce the final Route 19 schedule, along with those for the other affected routes, no later than March 31.
Needless to say, none of this changes the widely held opposition to the Province’s process on ferry service cuts, its lack of consultation and notice, fare hikes, and the continuing fiscal imbalance in ferry policy.
FAC Chair, John Hodgkins, later described the meeting as a positive move forward after 18 months of frustration with the Province. Over the past three weeks, BC Ferries staff have been meeting with stakeholder groups to discuss community reaction to their proposed schedules on no less than 16 routes – and they now have about 10 days in which to assimilate all of that information and determine how many of the suggested variations can be accommodated.
Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce representative John Peirce believes the restoration of an early afternoon round trip in peak summer season is critical for tourism and will be hugely welcomed by island business.
An outline of the proposed schedule changes suggested by the Ferry Working Group can be seen here.