PRINCE RUPERT – The B.C. Liberal government’s recent announcement of cuts to ferry routes across the province will negatively impact coastal communities and people who rely on ferries for their health and economic well-being, says New Democrat MLA for North Coast Jennifer Rice.
“These drastic cuts to B.C. Ferries show the B.C. Liberals just don’t understand how critical ferry services are to people living on the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii,” says Rice. “People from remote and isolated communities that are heavily dependent on tourism will have to bear the burden of the Liberals’ failure to create a long-term sustainable plan. The extent of the cuts is far greater than people imagined they would be, and people have every right to be outraged.”
Cuts to services include a 32 per cent reduction in the Port Hardy – Prince Rupert route, a 27 per cent cut to the Skidegate – Prince Rupert route, and the cancellation of Route 40, the Port Hardy – Mid Coast – Bella Coola route.
Rice noted that people from as far away as Williams Lake have contacted her with concerns as tourism businesses are now in jeopardy with the complete cancellation of the Mid Coast Circle tour.
“A popular trip is to take the ferry up from Port Hardy and get off in Bella Coola to drive the famous wilderness Highway 20 to Williams Lake and then circle back to Vancouver,” said Rice. “There are businesses in the Bella Coola valley that are entirely reliant on this trip for their economic well-being, and the livelihoods of the people who run them are now in jeopardy.”
“It’s not right to take resources from coastal and rural communities and then strip them of the infrastructure they need to thrive,” said Rice. “The cancellations and reductions in routes will put economic strain on already struggling communities. It’s disappointing that the B.C. Liberal government hasn’t made rural transportation a priority and clearly hasn’t considered the long-term damage these cuts could bring to B.C.’s coast communities.”