Denman and Hornby Residents Need Our Support

Public input sought on cable ferry project

JANUARY 9, 2014

BY MICHAEL BRIONES
ECHO STAFF

The BC Ferry Commission will give residents an opportunity to give their input on the proposed cable ferry on the Buckley Bay to Denman Island route.

BC Ferries has submitted an application to the commission to approve a major capital expenditure for the cable ferry project.

The commission wants to hear people’s concerns and is encouraging the public to give their comments via a written submission to info@bcferrycommission.com or by mail to the BC Ferry Commision, PO Box 9297 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria BC, V8W 9J7. Deadline for written submission is Jan. 23.

Denman and Hornby Island residents have already expressed strong opposition to this project. They have already submitted a petition to the Minister of Transportation Todd Stone via the office of Comox Valley MLA Don McRae late last year year.

Charlie Tate, who helped gather signatures, said, “this petition shows that virtually one hundred per cent of Denman and Hornby residents oppose this project. This is a nightmare. For five years, and nine public ‘consultation’ meetings, Denman Islanders have consistently opposed the cable ferry. BC Ferries executives say they will go ahead no matter what we do.”

Denman resident Laura Pope, who started the petition, said, the 1,800 Denman, Hornby and other local users, who signed the petition have exhausted every avenue to stop BCFC from proceeding with this project.

“This cable ferry experiment by BCFC needs to be stopped before construction contracts are signed by BC Ferries Corporation,” said Pope.

The petition urges Transportation Minister, Todd Stone, to use his power as minister to exercise “provincial oversight” and intervene on residents’ behalf with BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan.

The preamble of the petition states, “the taxpayers of BC are the real shareholders of B.C. Ferries. All of us who live in coastal communities . . . must have a say in our service.”

The petition went on to say that Corrigan, B.C. Ferry commissioners Gord Macatee and Martin Crilly have championed this project despite vociferous local arguments that counter the project on technical, economic, safety and strategic grounds.

“How can a project that isolates two Islands from BC Ferry’s own interoperability plan for a span of 40 years be logical or practical” questions retired BC Ferries Capt. Pete Kimmerly, a resident of Hornby Island.

“The commissioner Gord Macatee has forwarded the concept of all new BCFC new construction conforming to interoperability and yet Denman and Hornby get left out with a fixed link, how does this make sense?”

This is the second petition from Denman and Hornby residents opposing the cable ferry. The first petition with 1,000 signatures was delivered to B.C. Ferries board chair Donald Hayes, exactly two years ago to the day, and was presented in the legislature by B.C. NDP MLA Claire Trevena. Hayes and the board, said Pope, did not acknowledge receiving the petition.

The proposed cable ferry will be a 50-car vessel that will replace the current vessel Quinitsa in 2014. It is estimated to result to over $19 million in savings over the life of the assets. The savings will come from lower fuel consumption, fewer maintenance-related expenses and lower operational costs, including cutting on-board staffing numbers in half.

The Denman Island-Buckley Bay ferry requires six crew members. The cable ferry, though it will have the same vehicle capacity, is expected to require just three crew members, though Transport Canada will have the final say.