Gabriolans left stranded

It’s unfortunate that one of the only ways to keep B.C. Ferries afloat is to leave Gabriola Island residents marooned.

It’s unfortunate that one of the only ways to keep B.C. Ferries afloat is to leave Gabriola Island residents marooned.

The provincial Ministry of Transportation and B.C. Ferries recently completed a review process and this week they announced some of their plans, doling out cuts, cancellations and disappointment.

Most minor ferry routes will see fewer sailings, including the Nanaimo-to-Gabriola Island run. B.C. Ferries announced that starting in the spring, it’s going to chop the last two sailings of the night to and from Descanso Bay.

This is an inconvenience for a ferry-dependent community, and it’s much more than that, too – for some, it will be an upheaval. Commuters can forget about working the late shift, or taking a night class.

To a lesser extent, it hurts Nanaimo. Our arts and culture scene and downtown nightlife immediately become all but inaccessible to Gabriola Island residents.

By leaving those folks stranded, we’re effectively cut off from a part of our community. Gabriolans are our friends, relatives and neighbours. They volunteer at our festivals, join our clubs and play on our sports teams and all these things are about to become more complicated as the ferry schedule gets sliced and diced.

It’s a shame. And it’s a shame that there isn’t a better solution, but maybe there isn’t one. People of Nanaimo, for example, can’t keep forking over fare increases to subsidize those who choose to live on islets – at some point, that business model becomes unsustainable.

Gabriolans should be upset about ferry cuts. They should advocate for their community. There should be a hew and cry.

And we’ll support them – just as long as it doesn’t mean fare increases on our major sailings.