Voices in the Wilderness

Transportation Minister Todd Stone claims to have consulted with many mayors, chambers of commerce, regional district chairs, ferry advisory committee chairs, small business owners, and tourism industry representatives.

We aren’t sure who Minister Stone has consulted with, but we do know what they told him:

“BC Ferries has made these sailing changes without understanding the full impact their decisions will have on tourism throughout our province. Shame on the government for not recognizing the ferry service is an important component of the highway transportation infrastructure and vital to tourism.”  Marnie Henne, President, BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association

“Our tourism industry alone stands to lose over $3 million in revenues. The loss of an additional $1.2 million by a local retailer will result in job losses. The cost to our community and the province in jobs and revenues will far outweigh any cost savings to BC Ferries.”  Bev Parnham, Mayor, Port Hardy

“The proposed BC Ferries reductions will have an immediate and significant negative financial impact to Aboriginal businesses. There has been no requested consultation by BC Ferries or the Ministry of Transportation with our Aboriginal cultural tourism industry.”  Keith Henry, CEO, Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC

“The cut to Route 40 service from Port Hardy to Bella Coola will have a devastating socio-economic impact not only to the Bella Coola Valley but also to communities on Vancouver Island, along Hwy 20 to Williams Lake and beyond.”  Reg Moody, Chair, Central Coast Regional District

“Significant service reductions and elimination of the Discovery Coast ferry service will have major consequences for the tourism industry and communities throughout the province.”  Ian Robertson, Executive Director, Tourism Industry Association of BC

“The BC Government is in danger to virtually destroy one of the most important travel routes for repeat customers – Highway 20, the Chilcotin Highway.  We all still cannot believe that this really is a serious plan of the BC Government and at this point we can only urge you to intervene immediately in order to avoid serious and lasting damage to British Columbia tourism from Europe.”  Rainer Schoof, Managing Director, SK TOURISTIK, together with the Managing Directors of six other major German tour companies.

“The Discovery Route cancellation poses a dire concern in that it is a cornerstone for development of new routings into an underutilized region of the province. We have seen some healthy growth over the past two years and service cancellation here will be toxic to the viability of many lodges, campgrounds and attractions along Highway 20 and into the Chilcotin. We would urge your government, in all haste, to reconsider the service reductions announced on these routes for 2014.”  Bill Knowlton, VP Marketing and Sales, Jonview Canada (Canada’s largest international tour wholesaler)

“The BCHA would like to remind the government of the 13 billion dollars the tourism industry contributes to the province. Our members are small business owners who have invested heavily in the infrastructure of our province and for many, their businesses and livelihood are now at risk.”  Ingrid Jarrett, President, BC Hotel Association

“We have heard from many of our international travel agents who strongly support continuation of Route 40. We simply cannot believe that it’s the intention of our government to turn Bella Coola into a dead end community.”  Beat Steiner, Owner, Bella Coola Heli Sports and Tweedsmuir Park Lodge

“We are vehemently opposed to the Minister of Transportation’s proposed BC Ferries cancellation of Route 40 based on the economic hardship and loss of jobs it will reap. This route is a key component of the provincial Discovery Coast circle route and generates significant revenue for businesses and communities throughout the Interior.”  Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association

“BC Ferry fares and service levels (must be) frozen until such time as the provincial government implements legislation that recognizes our coastal ferry services as essential extensions of our provincial public highway system”  Union of BC Municipalities

“Even after the cuts, the system will still be unaffordable, unsustainable, and spiralling into deeper trouble. Cutting costs to stay ahead of falling revenue, without also fixing the cause of the falling revenue, is a path to business failure.”  Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs

“Calling this ‘sustainable’ is a cruel way to indicate that the government is out of touch with the reality of their own economy.”  Jack Barr, President, Powell River Chamber of Commerce

People who understand the consequences are speaking clearly.  Is Minister Stone listening?

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