Gabriola FAC Chair Steven Earle provided the following summary of a telephone meeting which was held yesterday between BC Ferries management and the Chairs of the various BC Ferries Advisory Committees. This summary is provided in the interest of keeping the Gabriola and Mudge Island communities as informed as possible. The FAC has no further information at this point.
BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins (along with Darin Guenette and Brian Anderson) met with the FAC Chairs yesterday.
Mark described the process behind the cuts to the minor routes (including the cuts on the Gabriola-Nanaimo route slated to start in October). BCF is required to give the government 90-days’ notice of cancellation of “above contract” sailings, and they did so back in mid-March. At the time they asked the government to waive the 90 days so that they could start making cuts during the slow period, but this was not approved. Mark admitted that it was a mistake on the part of BCF not to let the FAC chairs know that these cuts were coming. He apologized for that but did not provide a reason (except to say that there had been ongoing discussion with the minister).
BCF continues to lose in the order of $750,000 per day because they are still operating ferries that are less than half full (although the situation is improving). The money to cover the losses is coming from the reserve fund which is intended for capital projects. BCF is making every effort to cut costs (including the small cuts to our route) but Mark said that if they run out of reserve cash they will not be able to continue operating. So far, there has been no offer of help from either the provincial or federal governments.
Many capital projects are now on indefinite hold. This includes work at the Horseshoe Bay and Langdale terminals and of course at Nanaimo Harbour and on Gabriola, but it doesn’t include the four new Island 47 vessels (two of which are destined for our route), nor a new Salish vessel. Mark said that the proposed work at Nanaimo will go ahead, but that the new berth will not be bult at this time (nor the new tie-up berth for the two-vessel operation). When asked about that he said that BCF will rent a tie-up berth from Nanaimo Harbour Authority once the two new vessels are put into service. Work on the Gabriola terminal is also on hold indefinitely.
-Steve Earle for the Gabriola FAC