The NDP’s Ferries Critic says the money spent on last year’s “community engagement” could have saved some routes from the cuts coming later this month.

The Transportation Minister’s budget estimates are being debated this week, and Todd Stone told the Legislature the consultations cost 650-thousand dollars.  He calls that an “all-in” number, that includes a contract for the consultant, travel and Ministry staff time.

Claire Trevena says that means the government spent as much on the engagement as it’s forcing BC Ferries to cut from routes like Earls Cove to Saltery Bay.

Trevena is also calling on Stone to force Ferries to trim management to find some of the 19 million dollars it’s being told to save.

During the same debates, Stone said he’s open to talking to Gulf Island communities that want fixed links instead of ferries, but he acknowledges that right now many Gulf Islanders, and the Islands Trust are dead set against bridges.

Just last month more than 30 people got together to form the “Gabriola Island Bridge Society” to push for the fixed link alternative.