With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said her party would restore BC Ferries to the status of a Crown corporation if elected to government on Oct. 24.

She denounced the current for-profit motive while speaking in the Brentwood Bay neighbourhood of Central Saanich on Oct. 19 with the Mill Bay ferry as a backdrop and incumbent Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen at her side. Furstenau said a non-profit approach toward the ferry service under a Crown corporation governance model would place the needs of residents ahead of profits.

In 2003, the BC Liberals converted the BC Ferries from a Crown corporation created in 1960 into a half-public, half-private company with the provincial government as the sole shareholder.

The provincial ferry system is an “essential” part of the provincial transportation network like roads and bridges that connects communities and generates “significant” part of the provincial economy, she said, adding later that the provincial ferry system needs to put a greater emphasis on multi-modality to help reduce the provincial carbon footprint.

RELATED: NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

“If we are focused on BC Ferries being a Crown corporation, then the goal is not to generate profit, the goal is to generate service,” she said. “Our transporation is part of a service that government provides to every citizen in B.C. and every citizen should count on that service being as efficient, reliant, and affordable as possible.”

Furstenau later denounced the general erosion of service levels, but could not give concrete answers to the question of how a change in governance would improve service.

“People are feeling less and less served by the ferry system, so what we need to get to is a place where people feel that this service is actually meeting their needs and serving first and foremost, and then we measure our outcomes, based on how well we are getting to that place where people’s needs are being served,” she said. “It’s a shift in how we approach the question of our ferry system.”

When asked again for specifics, Furstenau said the change would improve passenger-ferry service, reliability, accessibility and customer services in areas such as reservations. “We have to make sure that residents in all coastal communities can count on their ferries to serve them,” she said.

Furstenau’s call unfolded against the backdrop of BC Ferries suffering massive financial losses, which executives have blamed on COVID-19. Net earnings for the fiscal year of 2020 ending March 31 fell to $28.8 million from $52.2 million in 2019, losses that will likely see taxpayers help pick up the tab through emergency relief support. BC Ferries also carries debt worth $1.4 billion.

“As you point, the provincial government and the people of B.C. contribute very significantly to this organization,” she said. “Yes, there is an issue around the debt, but what is important is that as funders, both through government and the citizens who use the ferry system, it is important that government is setting the outcomes for the service levels that we want to see.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

BC Votes 2020Election 2020

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

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

Chief Paul Burkart presented Nelson Police Department budget numbers to city council on Nov. 23. Photo submitted
Nelson police ask council for 1.9 per cent budget increase for 2021

Almost 90 per cent of police budget is for wages

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Group fitness classes are on hold at the Nelson and District Community Complex. File photo
Group fitness classes cancelled at Nelson, Salmo rec centres

Parking enforcement is also coming to the Nelson and District Community Complex

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Most Read