Bowen Island’s municipal councilors have spent this past week in Victoria meeting with municipal officials from across British Columbia as well as provincial ministers for the annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference. On Tuesday, the majority of our council met with the provincial Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone, to ask for some of the weekend sailings from Horseshoe Bay that were cut in 2014 to be brought back.
Councilor Melanie Mason, liaison to the Bowen Island Municipal Transportation Advisory Committee, says she presented Stone with the results of the 2016 Ferry Schedule Survey results.
“The survey clearly shows that the loss of the 7:30 am sailing on Saturdays, and the 9:30 am sailing Sundays from Snug Cove have the biggest impact on Bowen Islanders,” says Mason. “These are key ferry sailings for many households, getting people to work, sports activities, as well has helping them make travel connections and do basic errands.”
A total of 384 people responded to the ferry survey. According to the briefing on the survey results, 20 percent of the 248 separate comments attached to the survey cite hardship in maintaining and securing employment due to limited weekend ferry service from Bowen.
Mason says that she also explained to Minister Stone that Bowen Island has experienced an influx of young families moving from Vancouver in the past year.
“There is new ridership for BC Ferries here on Bowen,” says Mason. “But what we’re seeing with the lack of ferry service on the weekends is that people are not changing their plans around the schedule, they are just not leaving the island. This is having a negative impact on children and young families on Bowen Island.”
Mason points to a report put out by North Shore Community Resources that points to barriers to communal activities on Bowen Island as a source of potential vulnerability to young children.
“The limited weekend ferry schedule acts as a barrier to swimming lessons, soccer, visiting family and friends and much more,” says Mason. “I think this, combined with statistics on our increasing population really caught the attention of Minister Stone.”
Mason says this meeting has opened the door to further meetings between the province and BC Ferries on an economic case for reinstating the lost weekend sailings.