Tofino to protest BC Ferries cuts

Tofino will write to Premier Christy Clark expressing the district’s concern over the service cuts and fare increases at BC Ferries announced by the province in November.

During last week’s regular council meeting in Tofino, council reviewed a letter from Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District (SQCRD) chair Barry Pages seeking support for the BC Ferry Coalition.

The BC Ferry Coalition is an ad hoc steering committee comprised of coastal community residents opposed to the service cuts and higher fares proposed by BC Ferries.

The letter had appeared on a previous agenda but was deferred to give Tofino officials time to consider a response strategy.

“I wanted to give us some time to think a little bit more about what the appropriate response from the district of Tofino could be or should be,” said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne. The coalition is running the gamut in search of support reaching out to local governments, the private sector, chambers of commerce, and residents.

“The SQCRD Board strongly supports the BC Ferry Coalition and its continued efforts in opposing the recent BC Ferries service cuts and fare increase,” Pages said through the letter.

He said the SQCRD has been unsuccessful in its efforts to schedule a meeting with Premier Clark and he encouraged Tofino’s council to request a meeting with Clark and support the coalition.

“On the subject of ferries, there’s been a plethora of correspondence and committees and ad hoc advocacy groups that have been struck up over the past year and a lot of discussion at the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District table,” Osborne said. “I do think it is important that we add the district of Tofino’s voice to this.”

She noted the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities convention attendance voted to support a detailed study on the impact Ferry route cuts and fare increases will have on the socio-economic well-being of coastal communities.

Osborne suggested Tofino write to premier Christy Clark and continue correspondence with “the various advocacy groups and districts fighting to keep the question alive.”

Coun. Al Anderson said the strongest point for Tofino to make is that ferry fare increases are hurting the Island’s tourism economies.

“That point has to be made for sure,” he said Coun. Dorothy Baert added that while Tofino’s tourism numbers are on the rise according to Tourism Tofino’s statistics, tourists are arriving with less money to spend at local businesses because of the amount their asked to cough up to get to the Island.

“I think that’s where a lot of communities are feeling an impact,” she said.

reporter@westerlynews.ca