- Our Town
Survey shows economic impact of potential ferry cuts
Of the two hundred and fifteen people who responded to a survey distributed, over two weekends, on the ferry runs which are slated to be cut by April of 2014, one-hundred and thirty four said they were travelling for work. Gordon Ganong, chair of the Bowen Island Economic Improvement Committee says this number goes to show that the cuts will have a drastic impact on Bowen’s economic well-being.
Ganong wrote the survey and organized for its distribution by volunteers because, he said, he wanted to know exactly who was riding the affected ferry runs and to hear directly from them about the impact.
“One-hundred and thirty-four people might not seem like a very large number,” says Ganong, “But on Bowen we have roughly 1400 households, and if all of the people who use those ferries will have to either quit their jobs or move off island, that means Bowen is losing an excess of $1 million in revenue in exchange for BC Ferries saving $165 thousand.”
Among those people who will struggle to get to work if the ferry sailings are cut are nurses, a firefighter, a woman who cares for ten-elderly patients in West Vancouver, a church director, someone who commutes to Bowen to work at the Orchard Recovery Centre, and someone who comes to Bowen to work as a paramedic.
Many of the survey respondents noted that they were travelling to the mainland for more than a single purpose, working and socializing, or socializing and doing errands.
Ganong says that beyond the simple multiple-choice style answers to the survey, he has collected nine pages of comments written by the people who filled it out.
A few examples of the comments:
- Have to quit REP hockey or persuade parents to move
-Don’t know if my work will be flexible enough
-Newspaper delivery on Island would be even later
Ganong says he wants the results of his survey to be communicated to politicians and BC Ferries Officials so that they understand the true impact these cuts would make on Bowen Island.
“Where is the fairness and justice in their actions?” asks Ganong. “Is the hardship for so many people and the impact on the economy of Bowen Island really worth it for the same amount of $130,000 a year that just one executive has been given as a salary increase?”
The Municipality’s online survey about ferry usage and cuts is entirely separate, and Bowen Island Municipal Transportation Advisory Committee (BIMTAC) chair Adam Holbrook says that more than 500 people have already responded.
“What we know for sure is that this creates a massive sense of uncertainty,” he says. “For people who are on island, or thinking of moving here, how can you make a decision about what you’re supposed to do when you’re thinking more cuts could be coming? There is a real lack of clarity in terms of the financial impact of these cuts, and a lack of clarity in terms of their consultation. We really need to sit down with someone and talk about what the trade-offs are with these cuts.”
Holbrook says there has been no response yet to anything that has been submitted by the municipality to the Ministry of Transportation.
“We don’t even know yet if anyone is going to be coming here in January,” Holbrook says.
One thing we do know, is that BC Ferries will be cancelling all ferries prior to 8am on December 25th and January 1st.