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.”

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

Just Posted

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

UPDATED: Man dies from injuries at Custom House construction site in Victoria

Government Street remains closed as investigation continues

VIJHL season could start Oct. 1, says league president

League awaiting final approval from local health authorities and viaSport

Netflix, Warner Bros filming 10-part series in Colwood

Filming takes place now until March 2021

Saanich explores options for adding shelters to parks

Covered areas would encourage safe outdoor socializing during rainy season

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Nanaimo RCMP shut down illegal racing and stunt driving site

Police “swoop in” to seize vehicles and issue violation tickets

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Most Read