Clearwater council opposes ferry cutbacks

“The government says it supports tourism and small communities, but they don't.”

A recent decision by the BC Ferries to cut back its ferry service to the central B.C. Coast did not sit well with Clearwater’s town council.

“I’m dismayed and discouraged,” said councillor Shelley Sim. “This will disrupt the entire tourism industry. They’ve announced it too late.”

“The government says it supports tourism and small communities, but they don’t.”

Sim’s concerns were echoed by other council members.

“There’s a lot of talk about LNG (liquified natural gas) but tourism harvests dollars from other countries without much impact,” said Merlin Blackwell. “It’s sustainable. It will go on long after the last oil has passed through the pipeline.”

The real harm coming from the decision and announcing it so late is that European tourism operators will no longer trust B.C., Blackwell felt.

Council voted unanimously to write a letter questioning the cutbacks.

The discussion arose as the result of receiving two letters on the issue.

One was from a special committee on BC Ferries set up by Union of BC Municipalities to research the recently announced cutbacks and fare increases.

The second was from Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District that asked that letters be written to the premier requesting she meet with local governments and First Nations to further discuss the issue.

According to information from BC Ferries, the provincial government has confirmed that the Queen of Chilliwack service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola will be discontinued.

However, the Inside Passage route will stop in Bella Bella to allow for connection with the MV Nimpkish, which will provide service to Bella Coola.

The Nimpkish does not have the capacity or onboard amenities of the Queen of Chilliwack, and so all booking requests might not be accommodated.

 

BC Ferries has offered that, if unable to accommodate an existing booking request, the company will offer to move the booking request to the Inside Passage (Port Hardy to Prince Rupert) at no additional cost.