The City of Campbell River is failing its neighbours when it comes to defending the integrity of coastal ferry service.
That charge has been levelled by Quadra Islander Paul Ryan, chair of the Campbell River, Quadra, Cortes Ferry Advisory Committee.
“We include the name Campbell River only out of courtesy because most of those guys couldn’t give a damn about this ferry,” Ryan says.
“Coun. Mary Storry sat on the committee for many years, but she finally said she couldn’t do it anymore because she was too busy and there wasn’t anybody else who was interested. In the two and a half years that I have been involved on this committee the degree of attention people in Campbell River pay to this ferry system is very, very, very small. They really don’t care.”
Storry, whose council portfolio includes transportation, recalls that “council reviewed the amount of time required to attend the large amounts of committee meetings and decided not to have representation on them all. So I didn’t step down; we just didn’t reappoint anyone after my year was up.”
Asked about the committee Mayor Walter Jakeway says: “I didn’t know there was a committee. It doesn’t affect us.” Jakeway says he was invited to a ferry consultation meeting in Courtenay Tuesday.
The issue of Campbell River’s disinterest was raised last week when Quadra Islanders met with provincial government and BC Ferries officials to debate the future of the cash-strapped ferry corporation. Retired Quadra resident Peter Gellatly said:
“Why isn’t the mayor of Campbell River here? Campbell River has more at stake than Quadra because Campbell River is a dying place, but it is actually the geographic centre of Vancouver Island and they don’t see ferries as their issue and they should.”
At the Quadra meeting islanders made it clear that onerous fare increases and service cuts will de-populate the gulf islands. Jakeway says:
“I didn’t even know there was a meeting on Quadra.”
Asked why Campbell River should care, Ryan says: “Because the population of Quadra Island buys their stuff in Campbell River. There’s an economic base here.”
Ryan says he’s reduced his visits to Campbell River to once a month from once a week because the ferry fares make it unaffordable.
“The escalating costs of ferry fares has made trips to town prohibitive … you just don’t jump on the ferry anymore.”