A report to UBCM aims to quantify damage to the provincial economy from reduced use of B.C.'s ferry system.

Analyst stands by report on ferry fares impact

Coastal communities want province to rethink fare hikes based on economic damage

The author of a study that estimates rising ferry fares have seriously damaged the provincial economy is standing by his conclusions in the face of sharp criticism from Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

Peter Larose projected 31 million more passengers would have taken BC Ferries over the last 10 years had the province kept fare hikes to the rate of inflation.

He pegged the losses at $2.3 billion in economic activity and $610 million in taxes to various levels of government.

“I have extreme confidence in the results,” Larose said, adding they are more likely an underestimate. “I think it’s probably significantly higher.”

He spoke to a policy session at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler Tuesday after Stone issued a letter and took to the airwaves to condemn the UBCM-sponsored study.

“It is unfortunate that the analysis speculates on what might have been, rather than providing any concrete solutions on how to take the coastal ferry system into the future in a cost effective and sustainable way,” Stone said in a Sept. 19 letter to UBCM’s president.

The minister said the study failed to properly consider various factors, from the effects of the 2008-09 global recession to rising fuel prices and demographic changes.

He said it was “irresponsible” and “unproductive” for UBCM to release the “unsubstantiated and sensational” estimates.

Stone’s letter also said the analysis was flawed because it assumed all the money not spent due to reduced ferry travel went out of the province, instead of being spent in B.C. in other ways.

Larose sought to reassure UBCM delegates that his projection is correct and doesn’t mean the economic damage in coastal B.C. is being offset by gains in other parts of the province.

But Tofino Coun. Ray Thorogood questioned that logic, arguing Lower Mainland residents deterred from a trip to Vancouver Island by high fares might instead head east to the Okanagan.

“We’re not saying this is the be all and end all of all analysis,” said Campbell River Coun. Claire Moglove, who sits on the UBCM committee that commissioned the work.

She said the aim is to do further work and engage the province in a real dialogue on stemming the decline in BC Ferries ridership.

“What we want from the provincial government is to sit down and start talking about solutions.”

Moglove added that UBCM decided to probe the impact of high fares because the province wouldn’t.

UBCM delegates vote Wednesday on a resolution in response to the findings.

Current rate caps allow for maximum increases of four per cent this year and 3.9 per cent in 2015.

Just Posted

Victoria’s roving tent city moves to Goldstream Park

Police from around the region evicted Camp Namegans from provincial land near Uptown early Tuesday morning

Tent city break-up leaves mobile clinic seeking Greater Victoria’s homeless

Clinic nurse has witnessed rise in sex work, drug use following tent city disbandment

Victoria wants more information on money laundering prevention in casinos

Council is hesitant to open new casino after Lower Mainland sites were found cleaning illicit cash

Torquay Elementary changes plans for portable on playground

PAC and School District 61 to discuss where to place a new childcare portable

Social media attack ads a ‘distraction from democracy’ says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps

‘Elections are won on the doorstep. Elections are not won on Facebook,’ says incumbent mayor

Oak Bay Fitness opens its doors with free classes

Top calibre instructors welcome public to 10,000 sq ft training facility

Province announces 74 new French teaching spots at SFU, UBC

Needed to fill demand for increasingly popular French immersion programs in B.C.

Saanich mayoral candidates in middle of legal dispute prepare for first face off

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes will be among four mayoral candidates Thursday’s forum

B.C. Rural Party co-founder rebukes pro-NDP accusation

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen disputes being NDP campaign supporter

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Most Read