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Manage ferry system to better support provincial economy: Save Our Ferries

The union founded advocacy group Save Our Ferries is floating a proposal they say will strengthen British Columbia's ferry system and the provincial economy.

The key, said the group's chair Gregg Dow, is “Identifying how important B.C. Ferries is to the economy of B.C. and making it part of our marine highway system.”

The proposal, set out in the eight-page report Course Correction released March 17, would bring the ferry system under closer legislative control and re-commit the company to safety. There would be a commitment to building new ferries in B.C. and fares would be tied to the Vancouver price index. Decisions would be made based on what's best for the provincial economy.

“We need people to look at the province as a whole,” said Dow. “The way W.A.C. Bennett looked at it when he put the ferries together in the first place was to build economic opportunity and help build the province.”

Save Our Ferries started seven years ago as a B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers' Union attempt to “save our butts”, said Dow, but has grown to something much bigger that takes in the wider viewpoints of other ferry stakeholders. Course Correction is a response to a challenge from Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon for the group to articulate what it stands for, said Dow.

“We needed to come out and get people talking about this,” he said. “We just wanted to come out with something positive, not just railing against the system.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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