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.”

Just Posted

Victoria hotel trashes Channing Tatum in favour of B.C.’s Ryan Reynolds

Tatum’s picture left in recycling bin, replaced with photo of Ryan Reynolds

Deer report goes to Oak Bay committee of the whole Tuesday evening

Heritage conservation area, arts and more to be discussed at Feb. 19 meeting

Pedestrian struck, vehicles targeted by thieves in Oak Bay

Police say the snow did not affect call volume

One arrested, weapons, and drugs seized in Sooke bust

During the Feb. 6 raid, police found firearms, ammunition, drugs, and brass knuckles

Unhealthy disagreement sees three First Nations chiefs take government to court

Claim and counter-claim: B.C.’s First Nations health department and administrator end up in court.

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Bomb threats, shootings, a kidnapping: Drug war rocks Kamloops

Kamloops RCMP battles a series of violent events

Okanagan ski resort officials displeased with Family Day roll-out

From one peak of the Okanagan to the other, resort officials have raised concerns

Island fossil makes it to the top of the provincial list

Courtenay’s elasmosaur will be added to the official Provincial Symbols of British Columbia

B.C. high school robotics team ranked first in the world for programming

The Surrey team was also named tournament finalists at VEX Robotics Competition on Feb. 1

Man shot dead in front of Kamloops hotel may be case of mistaken identity: RCMP

Rex Gill, 44, was not previously known to Kamloops police unlike second shooting victim

Vancouver Island boys high school basketball bragging rights on the line

Oak Bay, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Victoria host Island championships this weekend

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Most Read