To the Editor,
Ferry fares have increased dramatically and ridership has dropped. This has to change before any more damage is done to our Island economy.
Nearly 20 per cent of B.C.’s population lives on Vancouver Island, and Islanders have all contributed taxes to the mainland’s transportation infrastructure – things like the Sea to Sky Highway, the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge, the Coquihalla highway – things we don’t often use.
It’s time for all of B.C.’s taxpayers to step up to seriously reduce ferry fares. The resulting government tax revenue from new Island jobs and economic activity would be greater than the losses at the ferry ticket booth.
Tourism makes up over 11 per cent of this province’s economic output. Despite lower ferry ridership, this crucial Island industry is still holding its own this year – a testament to the Island’s incredible lure and value to visitors. Many more would come if fares were affordable.
The province is pinning its hopes for B.C.’s economic future with dreams of riches in natural gas and oil pipelines. Wouldn’t it be better to also include support for a renewable and proven industry that already exists, and capitalize on what we’re already known for?
B.C.’s tourism sector is an industry of 18,000 mostly small businesses. Island tourism profits stay on the Island to help Island people – not off to a corporate head office elsewhere.
Do we really want to just keep wasting the mind-blowing cost of the 2010 Olympics where we successfully invited the world to see B.C., by keeping its crown jewel, Vancouver Island, as the most expensive thing on the menu?