With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said her party would restore BC Ferries to the status of a Crown corporation if elected to government on Oct. 24.

She denounced the current for-profit motive while speaking in the Brentwood Bay neighbourhood of Central Saanich on Oct. 19 with the Mill Bay ferry as a backdrop and incumbent Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen at her side. Furstenau said a non-profit approach toward the ferry service under a Crown corporation governance model would place the needs of residents ahead of profits.

In 2003, the BC Liberals converted the BC Ferries from a Crown corporation created in 1960 into a half-public, half-private company with the provincial government as the sole shareholder.

The provincial ferry system is an “essential” part of the provincial transportation network like roads and bridges that connects communities and generates “significant” part of the provincial economy, she said, adding later that the provincial ferry system needs to put a greater emphasis on multi-modality to help reduce the provincial carbon footprint.

RELATED: NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

“If we are focused on BC Ferries being a Crown corporation, then the goal is not to generate profit, the goal is to generate service,” she said. “Our transporation is part of a service that government provides to every citizen in B.C. and every citizen should count on that service being as efficient, reliant, and affordable as possible.”

Furstenau later denounced the general erosion of service levels, but could not give concrete answers to the question of how a change in governance would improve service.

“People are feeling less and less served by the ferry system, so what we need to get to is a place where people feel that this service is actually meeting their needs and serving first and foremost, and then we measure our outcomes, based on how well we are getting to that place where people’s needs are being served,” she said. “It’s a shift in how we approach the question of our ferry system.”

When asked again for specifics, Furstenau said the change would improve passenger-ferry service, reliability, accessibility and customer services in areas such as reservations. “We have to make sure that residents in all coastal communities can count on their ferries to serve them,” she said.

Furstenau’s call unfolded against the backdrop of BC Ferries suffering massive financial losses, which executives have blamed on COVID-19. Net earnings for the fiscal year of 2020 ending March 31 fell to $28.8 million from $52.2 million in 2019, losses that will likely see taxpayers help pick up the tab through emergency relief support. BC Ferries also carries debt worth $1.4 billion.

“As you point, the provincial government and the people of B.C. contribute very significantly to this organization,” she said. “Yes, there is an issue around the debt, but what is important is that as funders, both through government and the citizens who use the ferry system, it is important that government is setting the outcomes for the service levels that we want to see.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

BC Votes 2020Election 2020

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

Just Posted

Remains of the scene off Melrose Road in Whiskey Creek where three bodies were found on Nov. 1, 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
RCMP investigation continues into grisly discovery of 3 human bodies, 4 dead dogs near Whiskey Creek

Police still want to speak with motorist who picked up hitchhikers near scene on Nov. 1

An man from Errington died when his ATV went over an embankment on Northwest Bay Logging Road on the weekend. (File photo)
Errington man dies in ATV crash southwest of Parksville

Incident happened on Northwest Bay Logging Road on Saturday afternoon

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

The first of two earthquakes near Alaska on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, is shown in blue. (USGS)
No tsunami risk after two earthquakes near Alaska

Both earthquakes hit near the U.S. state on Dec. 1

The CVRD will reconsider its policies on fireworks after receiving complaints. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Regional District considers options for fireworks after complaints

Distict only allows fireworks on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, with a permit

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Most Read