Over the past few days the media has pounced on the Transportation Minister’s about turn on cutting ferries on the Departure Bay – Horseshoe Bay route (one of a number of potential cost saving measures identified in BC Ferries’ submission to the BC Ferry Commission on September 30.)  But are we clear what he really is saying?

These are the key messages from the Minister’s media conference call this week. You can listen to the whole exchange here on the BC government website.

On the subject of Route 2 between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay…

  •  There is no appetite within government to see BC Ferries cancel that run.
  •  It is very important for BC Ferries to explore all options that may enable the corporation to whittle down to some degree the ¼ billion dollars of upgrades at Horseshoe Bay.
  •  That could come about through the use of different vessels serving the Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay route. We’ll see what ideas and options BC Ferries is able to come up with. 

On suggestions to run a passenger only ferry

  •  This government has no interest in supporting or encouraging BC Ferries to launch a passenger only service from Nanaimo to the Lower Mainland.

Are you saying there will be no changes on the Departure Bay/Horseshoe Bay run? Will there be any reduction in service in the future?

  • We’re going to make sure, working with BC Ferries, that the service levels that are required to meet the needs of the people of Nanaimo and the mid island, and folks on the lower mainland side, that those needs are met. At this point no recommendations from BC Ferries have been put on my desk.

 Talking about the two main ferry terminals in Nanaimo:

  • BC government has determined that this is not an issue that we would like to push through at this time. I have decided on behalf of government to officially rule out any consolidation of the two terminals in Nanaimo.

 Describing some of the other cost saving measures that are still on the table: 

  • There are other revenue saving opportunities we’re exploring. Were doing a feasibility study into the potential for a fixed link to Gabriola Island. That could very well come back demonstrating the potential for cost savings.

 Summing up in response to further questions….

  •  There will continue to be two terminals in Nanaimo; there will continue to be a ferry service – a vehicle ferry service – from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay and there will not be a passenger service – a BC Ferries passenger service – from Nanaimo to the lower mainland.

So that’s all clear then. Unless he changes his mind.

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  1. So when is BC Ferries a private corporation that makes its own business decisions and when does the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure make the decisions? Well the answer is BCF has to make the decisions when it let’s the government off the hook for taking any responsibility for the ferry service. So question to Minister Stone: where were you when BCF was raising fares fare beyond the point of affordability and simultaneously slashing services to coastal communities? Your silence was deafening.

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