The Baynes Sound Connector leaves Denman Island en route to Buckley Bay. Record file photo

The Baynes Sound Connector leaves Denman Island en route to Buckley Bay. Record file photo

Extra funding for routes for small island communities

Funding will enable ‘pilot’ routes to continue from September through March 2021

Smaller communities such as Denman Island can expect ferry service to remain above the mandated levels beyond the summer.

A pilot program has been in place over the summer to add sailings beyond the level as laid out in the BC Ferries contract, though small island communities such as Denman had concerns over what will happen once the summer is over.

In June, the School District 71 board contacted the ferry service and the Province following its last regular meeting of the 2019-2o20 school year about cuts to service levels to places like Denman Island. Members of the local advisory council had also resigned in response to reductions in service to the smaller islands.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley school board wants consultation before ferry cuts

Both BC Ferries and the provincial government sent the school district board letters over the summer acknowledging the situation. In July, BC Ferries vice-president for strategy and community engagement Brian Anderson wrote about service changes for the Comox Valley, saying he understands the role ferries play for students taking part in field trips or extra-curricular activities and encouraged the school board to keep the local advisory committee apprised of community needs.

On Aug. 13, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena wrote to the board about the negative impact that COVID-19 has had on ferry service finances, adding BC Ferries had been planning to reduce some sailings beyond the minimum levels as spelled out in the contract with the Province.

“These sailings were added to schedules on some minor routes as pilots based on the travel demand prior to the onset of the pandemic,” she wrote.

However, she added that through an agreement with BC Ferries, schedules for minor routes will remain in place through the summer months.

A BC Ferries spokesperson has since clarified that the Province had provided funds for the above-contract sailings in the summer, but that BC Ferries will fund the sailings for the fall. An Aug. 19 news release confirms BC Ferries will add 769 above-contract sailings on its minor and northern routes, with the new schedule to match that of pre-pandemic service levels. These sailings will be in effect from Sept. 8 through March 31, 2021.

BC Ferries also acknowledged ferry traffic is about 20 per cent lower than at the same time last year because more people are staying close to home over the summer. However, it did note the role communities have played in letting BC Ferries understand their needs.

“We appreciate our ongoing engagement with the Ferry Advisory Committees to bring community concerns forward so we can resolve them together,” president and CEO of BC Ferries Mark Collins said in the news release. “With traffic returning and local communities in need of frequent and reliable service, we know the addition of 769 sailings above what our contract requires will be welcomed by residents and coastal communities alike.”

Earlier in August, the Province and the federal government announced a matching funds agreement to help BC Ferries restore pre-pandemic service levels.

RELATED STORY: Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

On Aug. 20, BC Ferries released quarterly financial results for the period ending June 30, which showed net losses of $62 million compared with net earnings of $12.2 million for the same quarter in 2019.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bc ferryCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
RCMP warn of counterfeit bill use in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Police have received four calls in December regarding bogus bills

The Town of Qualicum Beach will continue to have confidential in-camera meetings in person and at the council chambers. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Qualicum Beach confidential meetings to remain in person at council chambers

Coun. Robert Filmer calls decision an ‘unneeded risk’

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

Kwalikum Secondary School. (SD69 photo)
Schools superintendent says protocols don’t change after COVID-19 exposure at Qualicum Beach high school

Elder: ‘We were assured by the Health Authority that the school is safe’

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Gracie couldn’t stop nursing from her previous owner’s goats which was problematic given the goats were trying to be dried out to breed. Gracie now lives at A Home for Hooves. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Cowichan animal sanctuary gets international accreditation

A Home for Hooves farm sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney has spoken out about some veterans losing their Dimished Earning Capacity income. (Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror photo)
Blaney pens letter to minister about veteran supports

Concerned about veterans losing some income

Most Read