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Opposition to BC Ferries cuts not slowing down

Ferry dependent communities are bracing for the impact, after Wednesday’s news BC Ferries service cuts are going ahead.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone says he’s trying to lessen the blow by having Ferries work with affected communities to decide which sailings to cancel.

Sheila Malcolmson is Chair of the Islands Trust and the trustee for Gabriola. She says they’re already working on a plan to drop mid-day instead of early and late sailings.

Malcolmson says even if Gabriolans can get a schedule that saves early and late sailings, there’s only going to be a month’s notice before the new schedules start, and that’s going to make it tough for people to adjust.

The cuts to service on routes like Gabriola, Langdale and Earls Cove are supposed to save ferries 18.9 million dollars. They begin April 28th. The government is also telling Ferries to make changes to the major routes, including Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay, by April 2016 with an eye to saving 4.9 million.

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And, opposition to the cuts isn’t getting any quieter.

The BC Ferry Coalition says it’s going to keep fighting the cuts.  Chair Jef Keighley says the consultations were a sham, and the Coalition plans to march on the Legislature March 11th and they won’t stop there.  They’re also planning for a series of coordinated rallies in ferry dependent communities March 15th.

The Powell River Chamber of Commerce, which is leading the “Fiscal Fairness” initiative, says going ahead with the sailing cuts will turn coastal communities into ghost towns.  President Jack Barr says 36 per cent of the provincial GDP is at risk, and that’s a message that’s likely to resonate in Victoria.

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