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Editorial: Disruptions ahead

BC Ferries ranks high on the list of what many Powell River residents are concerned about.

BC Ferries ranks high on the list of what many Powell River residents are concerned about. High fares that hurt economies in ferry-dependent communities, aging vessels that impact service and a corporate structure that bounces coastal residents from company management to the ferry commissioner to provincial government all give rise to many issues and increasing frustration.

Just this week, BC Ferries is facing widespread criticism yet again after it was revealed that top executives were awarded pay and bonus increases, despite a government-wide compensation freeze. The revelation embarrassed the provincial government, because it has been working under a public-sector wage freeze and a crackdown on executive bonuses. BC’s new transportation minister, Todd Stone, said the executive bonuses were “sending the wrong message” at a time when the corporation is working towards reducing expenses by cutting service on some routes.

While the outrage at the executive perks percolates throughout coastal communities, it’s worth pointing out that company representatives have been doing a good job consulting Powell River and Texada Island residents about the temporary shutdown of both the Westview and Little River terminals early next year.

While the closure of the terminals will be disruptive, upgrading the infrastructure has to be done. Company representatives have planned for alternative service, based on their experience in other communities where terminals have been temporarily shut down and on feedback from the community. Plans include ferry service to and from Vancouver Island using Saltery Bay, daily flights to Comox and shuttle service. Texada Island residents will travel from Blubber Bay to Saltery Bay, but there will be daily water taxi service as well.

Schedules are already posted on BC Ferries’ website, along with all the other information residents will need during the temporary closure of the berths. There is still time to plan and it is up to individuals to be aware of the changes that will be part of our lives from January 12 to March 9, 2014. Some might choose not to travel during that time if that is an option. Those who have to travel will have to adjust to the alternative service. And everyone is going to have to take a deep breath and deal with it.