MLA Adam Olsen, left, Sidney Mayor Steve Price, North Saanich Mayor Alice Finnal and Royal Marine Search and Rescue Station 36 member Brad McBride. (File)

Green MLA wants BC Ferries back in the conversation

Adam Olsen tables petition; NDP unlikely to add it to current Ferries review

Adam Olsen says he hopes a petition he presented in the B.C. legislature this week gets the subject of BC Ferries as a Crown corporation back on the table.

However, Olsen and the Green Party caucus will likely face an NDP government with other priorities.

The MLA for Saanich North and the Islands introduced the 16,000-name petition to the legislature on Monday. The petition was led by Jim Abram, a director with the Strathcona Regional District. Olsen said Abram needed an MLA to take the petition to Victoria and as the Green Party’s transportation critic, he was willing.

“I have a similar approach as the one the petition supports,” Olsen told the PNR. “That BC Ferries should be brought back into the (Transportation) Ministry or as a Crown Corporation.”

RELATED: BC Ferries corporation status isn’t changing.

He said no matter where people fall on the argument, one way or another Island residents are reliant on Ferries and should be able to access them more reasonably. Whether that means making ferry service more of a part of the province’s highway system or tackling its large debt, Olsen said he hopes the petition at least spurs conversation among the parties.

The NDP government, however, isn’t willing to go that far in their current review of BC Ferries. That review does not contain a look at changing the arms-length corporation back to a Crown corporation or a government department. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena told Black Press this week that ferry users, in general, aren’t asking for that.

“They want it to be affordable and accessible running the service they want,” Trevena told reporters at the legislature. “They don’t really care where it is housed as long as it’s affordable and accessible.”

Abram is surprised to hear Trevena make that contention because he says that’s not what he’s hearing.

“I was quite taken aback to see the minister’s governance comments,” Abram said. “The true picture is the people on this coast want to see BC Ferries put back in the ministry so that it will be kept affordable and accessible and cost efficient and all of that. That’s what people are saying on the coast.”

Olsen said the petition is one tool to get the conversation started and highlights that the Green Party is still interested

in having this topic debated. And that would include the current governance model for Ferries and how the province can deal with the large amount of debt carried by BC Ferries — in contrast to bridges and highways in B.C. that do not have the same amount of debt.

Olsen said he doesn’t expect ferry service to be free, but he doesn’t think it should have the “profit driver” in setting rates.

“Certainly the people in my riding, Saanich North and the Islands, the Gulf Islands, consider B.C. Ferries part of their highway system, part of their marine infrastructure, if not highways then certainly marine transit,” Olsen said. “Rather than have B.C. Ferries trying to make profit, it needs to be part of our highway system.”

He asked if BC Ferries was currently serving its purpose — “that’s the question we need to be asking.”

The NDP government accepted the petition for consideration and now Abram and the petition supporters will give them a few days to decide what that means.

“I think within the week, I will be inquiring of the government what is it you are actually doing with the petition,” Abram said.

— with files from Black Press legislative reporter Tom Fletcher and the Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Partnerships are key for Peninsula youth clinic

The clinic has a new home and some funding for a year, but there is more to do

Brentwood Bay hosts 24-hour cancer fundraiser

Monster and Sea 24-hour Paddle is grassroots fundraiser

Central Saanich Police training a drug recognition expert

Role needed as Canada nears cannabis legalization this year

Six stories a non-starter at Sidney’s Cedarwood Inn site

Site redevelopment plans go back to the drawing board

Saanich Police speed reader board stolen

Traffic safety device taken from the 4700 block of Interurban Road

Victoria airport terminal expansion under way

Videos posted showing work in progress over the next 27 months

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

UPDATE: Orca Airways grounded due to safety issues

Merger with Integra Air results in loss of operator’s certificate

Investigation into bullying allegations against Elizabeth May still weeks away

Federal Green Party Leader asked for third-party investigation back in January

UPDATE: Costco rumours spurred on by vague email reference

Rumours of big box stores coming to Central Saanich or Sidney happening since 1994

Viewer Photos: First day of Spring around British Columbia

Our loyal viewers sent us some of their favourite Spring photos from all corners of the province

Human remains found in Campbell River in February under investigation as a homicide

In mid-February, RCMP announced that human remains had been located in a… Continue reading

Five Canadian kids charged with making school threats

Police say online threats are on the rise

Not even Ellen DeGeneres can get Virtue, Moir to say they’re more than friends

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday

Most Read