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City of Powell River councillor provides ferry advisory committee meeting update

City councillor Jim Palm is also a Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee member
COUNCILLORS APPRISED: BC Ferries will be improving communication between southern and northern Sunshine Coast ferry routes so travellers won’t be left stranded at Earls Cove, City of Powell River councillors were told recently.

City of Powell River councillors were provided an update on BC Ferries developments at the June 2 council meeting.

Councillor Jim Palm, a member of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee, said on May 31, he had attended the ferry advisory committee meeting, with BC Ferries staff in attendance to answer questions. Palm said that prior to the meeting, there was an open house, and that there were many in attendance.

“I saw emails afterwards saying these people were pleased with the meeting and being allowed to talk directly with BC Ferries staff,” said Palm.

He said mayor Dave Formosa had submitted a question for the public and that a reply had been received.

“The mayor’s question was: why do we have to pay both ways for our ferry when all other isolated communities are only paying one way?” said Palm. “The official response we got at the meeting is as follows: ‘BC Ferries has point of sale facilities at both Route 17 terminals (Westview to Comox terminals), so fares are charged for one-way travel. This route can be a means for travelling to other routes. Customers are not always returning via the same route, so one-way fare is collected.’ That’s the official response.”

Palm said BC Ferries is not going to change the policy.

He said, however, that he has good news regarding a follow-up from a meeting that happened a year ago when there was discussion about adjusting peak time sailings so more people can get to destinations.

“One thing they [BC Ferries] are bringing in this summer is a discount fare for late ferry sailings to try to get more customers to use those late sailings that are short of customers,” added Palm.

He said the other piece of good news is surrounding communication, which was also brought up a year ago because on numerous occasions when the ferry was late on the Langdale to Horseshoe Bay route, people could not make connections to Earls Cove to get back to Powell River.

“They [BC Ferries] are implementing a new communications strategy this summer to address that so there is open communication when ferries are delayed between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale, so that the ferry at Earls Cove can be delayed and people from Powell River can get home,” said Palm.

He said one topic he brought up at the meeting that is hopefully going to be addressed within a year’s time is with regard to priority sailing out of Saltery Bay. He said if travellers miss a ferry in the peak summer months, travelling south to get an appointment or a flight out of Vancouver, people need to get to the Lower Mainland on time.

“If you have a reservation in Langdale and you miss your ferry in Saltery Bay, you’re out of luck,” said Palm. “If they gave priority sailing a special lane so they could make sure they are guaranteed to get on the ferry at Saltery Bay, they could make the reservation to get over to Vancouver on time. They are working on that suggestion and said they tried that in the past and for some reason it was only on a trial basis, but they are going to try to bring back some sort of trial.”