Eight-week long BC Ferries public consultation cost $700,000
Maintaining basic levels of ferry services, reduction of round-trip sailings and construction of bridges on several routes are among the suggestions gathered during an eight-week long BC Ferries consultation process last Fall.
The input gathered from the public will be used to develop new working strategies that will help BC Ferries save $26 million by 2016 by adjusting services.
The Coastal Ferries Consultation and Engagement report released Tuesday includes responses of 500 residents but doesn’t make any recommendations.
A little less than half (45 per cent) the respondents have stated maintaining basic levels of ferry services is the top priority.
Nearly 58 per cent of people have consented to reduced round-trip sailings as a measure cost savings.
When asked to suggest some long term measures to make the coastal ferries system sustainable, 67 per cent said they were in favour of alternative ferry technologies including cable ferries and passenger-only vehicles.
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While 63 per cent of respondents have expressed approval of constructing bridges on some routes, an overwhelming 73 per cent are calling for better cycling connections or transit services between communities and ferry terminals.
Four out of five people who filled in the feedback form agree to using economically viable alternative fuels, and 83 per cent are in favour of standardized vessels and docks to allow for vessel switching between routes.
At the same time, there is a strong resistance to increasing property and fuel tax in coastal communities to fund BC Ferries.
While 48 per cent of respondents disagreed with increasing property tax, 51 per cent said they were not in favour of hiked fuel taxes.
BC Ferries is overwhelmed by these responses. It has said it will spend some time to thoroughly review them all before making any final decisions on service changes.
“The high level of participation in this process reflects the importance the people of B.C. attach to the coastal ferry system,” said transportation minister Mary Polak. “We will carefully consider this report and take some time to determine how best to move forward to ensure that coastal communities are connected in an affordable, efficient and sustainable manner.”
More than 2,000 people participated in the consultation process through public meetings and a webinar between Oct. 29 and Dec. 21 last year.
People from 30 communities sent approximately 2,000 submissions on how the coastal service can be improved, and at the same time save money.
The consultation process cost taxpayers $700,000 and attracted much criticism.
Category: British Columbia