Ferries should only be about moving people and goods

No national or provincial transportation system makes a profit. Our highways certainly don’t — that’s not the point.

I could not agree more with the recent letters about BC Ferries.

No national or provincial transportation system makes a profit. Our highways certainly don’t — that’s not the point.

Why should we think the ferry service to be any different? They are provided by your and my taxpayer dollars. Historically, it has always been up to us, the public, to build the common use infrastructures essential to all citizens and industry, to accommodate movement of goods and services, to support an ever growing population.

Every level of community, on and off our Island, must constantly facilitate, grow and maintain new dollars coming in to keep pace with private and public demands. Without new dollars coming in to sustain and grow a community, it will soon stagnate or die from costs of essential public services, inflation and money leaving the community.

BC Ferries is essential but, under the present management concept — increasing fare charges and profit interests — it is an economic drag on our communities’ businesses and citizens, sucking away new dollars before they even reach the Island.

Ferries are not cruise ships or for-profit centres with gleaming brochures and advertisements, for shareholder gains or executive salaries of a private international corporation.

The purpose is to move people, goods and services from point A to point B. The only profit centres the roads and ferries are there to serve, help grow and sustain, are every variety of small and large business and industry this island can provide, today and tomorrow.

That is the source of tax dollars that our government budgets and juggles for our many common needs, including an efficient, comfortable and safe ferry service.

If there is a profit to be made beyond a reserve to maintain itself and grow to meet public demand, it is not by an outside ferry management service. While a turn of profit would be helpful, any profit should accrue to the taxpayer.

I fail to grasp why our Island’s chambers of commerce, community business organizations and municipal governments are silent on this issue. As a starting point, just look at the price inflation of goods and groceries arriving on island by ferry, among other cost of living factors.

A final note: I am tired of hearing that “it’s the price of living in paradise“ or, extolling the free enterprise profit motive. Not everyone has deep pockets or never needs to leave the Island.

John PietyParksville

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