Transportation Minister Todd Stone at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler.

Stone rejects fare rollback at BC Ferries


Ferry system savings, not higher taxes, must power fare restraint, says transportation minister

Transportation Minister Todd Stone quickly ruled out a demand Wednesday from municipal politicians to unwind recent BC Ferries fare hikes and service cuts.

Speaking outside the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, after delegates unanimously endorsed the resolution, Stone said affordability is the number one issue and fares cannot continue to rise at four per cent or more a year.

But he said he won’t overrule the independent ferry commissioner and force a reduction in fares.

“That’s not going to happen,” Stone said, adding he also firmly rejected a call from coastal communities to raise taxes to increase ferry subsidies.

Instead, he said, fare restraint must come from innovation and efficiencies that will deliver savings that can be reinvested in the ferry system.

Stone wants local support for potentially controversial service changes to cut costs – including a bridge to Gabriola Island and a cable ferry planned to Denman Island that would save $2 million a year.

“Leaders in coastal communities are going to have to work with us and embrace a number of other ideas, which could include alternative technologies, fixed links, alternative fuels, passenger-only ferries in complement to vehicle ferries – a wide range of ideas we’ve thrown out there.”

The province has also announced plans to retrofit two Spirit-class ferries to run on liquefied natural gas and save an estimated $9 million a year on fuel.

Stone met coastal community representatives Wednesday afternoon on the ferry issues and promised a follow-up meeting in November to discuss avenues for savings – both the ones already announced and others he said are “coming in the months ahead.”

Local politicians intend to keep pressing the province to study the economic impact of rapidly rising ferry fares, after releasing a UBCM-commisioned study pointing to significant losses to the province.

Stone previously criticized the UBCM study as “irresponsible” and “unsubstantiated.”

Just Posted

Two nature-inspired artists display oil paintings at Qualicum gallery

Judy Maxwell and Lloyd Major depict scenes of wildlife, landscapes and the west coast

Parksville seniors getting stronger with age

Weightlifting couple qualify to compete at Worlds Masters in Montreal in August

Camera captures cougar lurking in Parksville’s Foster Park neighbourhood

Resident shared photo to alert others to big cat’s presence

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Vernon ordered to reinstate terminated firefighters caught having sex at work

City believes arbitration board erred, exploring options

Dozens of B.C. temperature records smashed as spring brings early warmth

Squamish Airport was the hottest spot in all of Canada on Monday

Hackers seek holes in B.C. Hydro power grid, auditor says

System meets standards, but local outages still a concern

Nanaimo RCMP stop cyclist with no helmet, find out he’s wanted for murder

Kyle Antonio Dias, 19, to face second-degree murder charge in Toronto

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation welcomes new leader

Teri Mooring will take over as president this summer

Disappearance of Merritt cowboy now deemed suspicious: police

Ben Tyner was reported missing when his riderless horse was discovered on a logging road

Distillers hope federal budget scraps alcohol escalator tax

Tax hike set for April 1, marking third automatic increase in three years time

Kids found playing darts with syringes in Vancouver Island park

Saanich police is urging people to throw out their syringes properly and safely

Most Read