We on Vancouver Island grumble about our ferry fares. But, the truth is, we do not need those ferries, except for freight. We have other options, such as flying.
However, the ferries that serve the “lesser” routes are quite different. These are essential. Without ferries, one could not live on Saturna, Galiano or any other of the Gulf Islands and have a reasonable life, reasonable access to medical facilities, education for children or even a job.
Without them, these islands would become ghost communities, or the exclusive playgrounds of the very rich.
Any mandate to make every ferry route stand on its own as a profit centre is not good — for the islanders, for the rest of us on this Island or, really, for British Columbia. It would mean that these islands, instead of being homes for people, of providing a less-intensive life, would become parks, catering to those who could afford the access, and maintained by the province, or worse, derelicts. Our lives would be impoverished.
Of course, this really does not matter. Profit — short-term, immediate profit — is the only thing that we see as important. However, 20 or 30 years or a century later, we will realize what we have thrown away and there will be no way to rebuild it.
The lesser ferry routes must stay, and be served frequently and regularly, and we need to be willing to support this by cross-subsidy and tax dollars.
John A. Laidlaw
© Copyright 2013