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BC Ferries executives visit Powell River for senior-level meeting

CEO brings nine-person contingent to town for meet-and-greet gathering
BC Ferries executives
FERRY FACES: BC Ferries executives were recently in Powell River for a senior-level meeting as well as a meet and greet at a local restaurant. [From left] captain Jamie Marshall, vice president, business development and innovation; Corrine Storey, vice president and chief operating officer; Alana Gallagher, vice president and chief financial officer; Mark Wilson, vice president, strategy and community engagement; Cynthia Lukaitis, vice president and corporate secretary; Janet Carson, vice president, marketing and customer experience; Erwin Martinez, vice president and chief information officer; Glen Schwartz, executive vice president, human resources and corporate development; and Mark Collins, president and chief executive officer. David Brindle photo

BC Ferries executives were in Powell River on March 12 and 13 to conduct regular senior-level meetings.

During a 24-hour visit the ferry corporation also hosted a private function for approximately 30 guests at a popular Powell River restaurant.

Regional and municipal government elected officials, members of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee, Pacific Regional International Summer Music Academy and media were among those invited by BC Ferries president and chief executive officer Mark Collins to meet his nine-person executive team and staff.

Seven of the Victoria-based executives took the ferry to Powell River. The two Vancouver-based executives had scheduling requirements that meant flying was necessary, according to the company’s public affairs manager Darin Guenette.

“Traditionally, the executive meetings take an entire work day and have been held at head office in Victoria,” said Guenette. “However, the team conducted these meetings in Prince Rupert last October, and now Powell River this time. This allows them to talk with customers, employees and stakeholders in those communities and see the operations directly.”

Since becoming CEO in April 2017, Collins has come to Powell River five times.

Under his leadership, the much-maligned corporation has made a conscious effort to attempt to repair its reputation with disgruntled communities up and down the coast that have suffered years of neglect, service cuts and fare hikes.

“They seem more open to considering suggestions for improvements to service and not solely being about whether it makes sense in a business case,” said City of Powell River councillor and ferry advisory committee member Karen Skadsheim. “They seem more open to the idea that it's a community need.”

City councillor Maggie Hathaway took the opportunity to further a cause she said she has been trying to raise with BC Ferries for years.

People on social assistance do not have access to the fare discount available through the BC Ferries Experience Card because the minimum amount of money needed to load up a fare card is unaffordable, she said.

“They cannot afford to put money on a card because they need to feed themselves,” said Hathaway. “So when they go on a ferry they have to pay full price. They receive no discount.”

Hathaway said she raised the issue with BC Ferries chief financial officer Alana Gallagher.

“She didn't seem to be aware of it and said she’d look into it,” said Hathaway. “The people who most need it have no access to it, which is just wrong.”