David Hahn’s departure as CEO of B.C. Ferries is being hailed an opportunity to get the corporation back under direct government control.
Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog said Hahn was a controversial head of the ferry corporation and he doesn’t expect many tears shed at his leaving.
“I would hope Mr. Hahn’s leaving means the government is going to take its responsibilities for B.C. Ferries seriously now,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to repair the damage the rising rates have had on the Island’s economy.”
Andre Lemieux, Ferry Advisory Committee chairman for Gabriola Island, said with the B.C. Ferries Commissioner reviewing the government’s user-pay mandate for ferries, the writing was on the wall for Hahn.
“We knew it was coming. I personally think he did a good job for the time he was there,” he said. “Whether he’s worth the money he was paid is not for me to say.”
Rising costs and a drop in ridership have led to increased fares and many people taking issue with Hahn’s salary and pension.
“They used his salary as the explanation for the fare increases when it had little to do with the price increases over the last eight years,” said Lemieux. “It’s more to do with the provincial goverment’s refusal to put more money into the system for the minor routes.”
Donald Hayes, B.C. Ferries Services Board chairman, said in a press release that under Hahn’s leadership, B.C. Ferries was fundamentally transformed, resulting in improvements in all areas of the company’s business.
A successor for Hahn is expected to be named sometime in November.
Lemieux said whoever takes over Hahn’s job will have some big shoes to fill.
“David Hahn is a good administrator. He did what he was paid to do,” he said. “Having used the ferry service over the last 45 years, I could see since 2003 a big improvement in service, in the mood of the employees, the quality of the ships. But only on the big ships, the major routes.”
Nanaimo mayor John Ruttan said he’s pleased to see Hahn’s list of cost-cutting measures, amounting to $11 million, including his departure.
“It’s a bold move on his part,” Ruttan said. “We’re all concerned about the reduction of sailings, but also cognizant of the need to be fiscally responsible. I think what he’s done is accomplishing that.”
“Unless something dramatic takes place, it will be even worse.”