VICTORIA— An economic impact study released Monday shows the B.C. Liberal government ferry cuts have cost more than they saved in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Coast region.
“It’s hard to take the B.C. Liberal government at their word anymore, they know what to say, but then do what they want. They promised to improve and sustain ferry services, but they didn’t bother to do an economic impact study before making reckless cuts to ferry routes. Now we know these cuts are actually costing us money,” said New Democrat opposition leader John Horgan.
Horgan said that rather than saving money, the study commissioned by the West Chilcotin Tourism Association showed that in this first year alone, the cuts made to the Discovery Coast Passage route (Route 40) cost the region $3.3 million in lost economic activity, and $3.9 million in lost tourism revenue. “Even government took a direct hit,” said Horgan. “While the B.C. Liberal government said they were aiming to save $725,000 per year by cutting the service, the study showed a loss of $870,000 in municipal, provincial and federal taxation in 2014.”
Beat Steiner, co-owner of the Tweedsmuir Park Lodge in the Bella Coola Valley, said the study was commissioned because the government failed to look at the economic impact prior to making these cuts. “While we anticipated significant losses, learning the extent of the devastation to the regional economy exceeded our worst fears,” said Steiner. “These cuts incurred losses to the provincial economy far greater than the expected savings, and will continue to damage our reputation and our economy for years to come if steps are not taken immediately to improve service.”
New Democrat opposition spokesperson on B.C. Ferries Claire Trevena said this is more evidence that the B.C. Liberal government have no plan at all to fix B.C. Ferries. “Only a few weeks ago, the transportation minister floated the idea of cutting one of the service’s most-used routes, and seemed surprised to encounter opposition. Meanwhile, the premier is saying that ferry fares can’t get any higher,” said Trevena.
“The premier and the minister are trying to say whatever people who use our coastal highways want to hear, but when you look at their actions, it’s clear you just can’t take them at their word. “The B.C. Liberals have overseen more than a decade of skyrocketing fares and plunging ridership, which cost the province $2.3 billion in lost economic activity. Now we see their service cuts are costing more than they’re saving,” said Trevena.