Editorial: Ferry scheme unacceptable

B.C. Ferries quietly floated an efficiencies plan last month that suggested eliminating the Departure Bay-to-Horseshoe Bay sailing.

It was the worst idea B.C. Ferries cooked up since the Sunshine Breakfast.

The corporation quietly floated an efficiencies plan last month that suggested eliminating the Departure Bay-to-Horseshoe Bay sailing, possibly replaced by a passenger-only sailing on that route. What’s more, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation was initially willing to consider the scheme before cowering yesterday in the face of immediate, vociferous backlash.

For Nanaimo, severing this connection would have gone beyond any mere inconvenience; it would have been a crippling blow to tourism and other business. Beyond that, it would have challenged our very identity as the Hub City. In a world that’s ever shrinking, it’s absurd to think we would have become further isolated from the rest of British Columbia.

When the Duke Point terminal was built, we might have known – or guessed – that the Departure Bay terminal was endangered, but to see it in black and white was infuriating. The Nanaimo-West Vancouver sailing is one of B.C. Ferries’ few profitable routes. The terminal is central and convenient.

We will always have to ferry to and from the mainland sometimes, and if one day Duke Point becomes the only way to do that, then we will grudgingly take that detour. But ridership would be negatively impacted, and with fewer and fewer people paying more and more to take the ferry, at some point we’re past the tipping point, and past the point of righting the ship without yet another debilitating ferries ‘rethink.’

We understand that just because a route is efficient, doesn’t mean it can’t be more efficient. But our best-used, most-needed ferry should not be sacrificed, not now, because of a broken business model and a flawed funding formula.

The transportation ministry was right to back down. B.C. Ferries might have thought it could just abandon ship, but that’s not good enough for us here in Nanaimo.