Coastal Ferries: Restoration Of Service Levels, Fiscal Fairness And Long-Term Strategy

Transportation and Communication


NCLGA Executive Recommendation: Endorse | Endorsed by the NCLGA and UBCM Memberships


WHEREAS the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has requested that the Province abandon any plans to increase fares and/or reduce core ferry service levels, as such actions would have irreparable negative impacts on the economic well-being of coastal communities and the provincial tourism sector;


AND WHEREAS the UBCM has called on the Province to implement legislation that recognizes ferry services as essential extensions of our public highway system and ensures fiscal fairness between BC’s terrestrial and marine highway systems;


AND WHEREAS the UBCM has requested that the Province develop a long-term ferry services strategy, based on detailed socio-economic inquiry, that supports the sustainability of coastal communities and the provincial tourism sector;


AND WHEREAS over the past year the Province has (a) failed to implement a long-term ferry services strategy, (b) allowed further rapid escalation of ferry fares, and (c) implemented deep cuts to ferry services without conducting a socio-economic impact analysis;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NCLGA and the UBCM request the Province to:

  • Reverse the cuts to coastal ferry services implemented on April 28, 2014 and restore 2013

service levels;

  • Work co-operatively with coastal communities on implementing a long-term strategy for the coastal ferry system, based on detailed socio-economic inquiry, that supports the sustainability of coastal communities and the provincial tourism sector;
  • Implement legislation that recognizes the coastal ferry system as an extension of our highway system and ensures fiscal fairness between the marine and terrestrial components of our highway system; and
  • Freeze ferry fares and service levels at 2013 levels until such time as the above legislation and strategy are implemented.


Additional Information

UBCM Comments: The UBCM membership has endorsed a number of resolutions related to recognizing coastal ferry service as an essential extension of the highway system and requesting that the Province not increase ferry fares and/or reduce core service levels (2013-B12; 2012-B6; 2011-A3; 2010-B20; 2007-B18; 2004-B59).


In its response to resolution 2013-B12, the Province indicated that:


“Following the Ferry Commissioner’s review of the Coastal Ferry Act, government amended the Act to help reduce the pressure on fares. The amendments give the Commissioner more flexibility to determine the amount of revenue needed to sustain operations and support ongoing investment, as well as additional responsibility to oversee the costs of providing the ferry service.


[...] the Province has also committed an additional $79.5 in taxpayer funding and challenged BC Ferries to find an additional $15 million in efficiencies to 2016, over and above the $39 million already identified by the Ferry Commissioner.


Last year, the Province conducted an extensive public consultation process to discuss the short-term challenges and strategies to achieve the long-term vision for coastal ferries. Forty meetings were held in 30 coastal communities, welcoming over 2,000 participants.


As part of a larger strategy, service adjustments will be implemented to ensure the long-term sustainability of the ferry system. The Province will seek further public input this fall regarding these service changes and the long-term vision.”


In response to the Province’s November 2013 announcement of service reductions and fare increases, UBCM and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) jointly established a Special Committee on BC Ferries to undertake its own socio-economic analysis of the impacts in the absence of the Province doing so. A preliminary report was issued in April 2014 but both associations agreed that additional work needs to be done to fill the information gap that exists on impacts for coastal communities and the Province as a whole. As of May 1, the Special Committee has commenced Phase 2 and will be reporting out in mid-July with its report, findings and recommendations going forward.