It's up to government to decide whether to close a Nanaimo ferry terminal, B.C. Ferries says.
The B.C. Chamber of Commerce included "terminal rationalization" in its package of policy recommendations to the provincial government, at its annual general in Nanaimo in May. Wording to close one of Nanaimo's two ferry terminals was removed from the resolution, to satisfy Nanaimo delegates. But the idea isn't gone.
B.C. Ferries operated both ferry routes from the Departure Bay terminal over the winter of 2011-'12, after the Duke Point terminal was damaged by a ferry "hard landing."
Terminal rationalization is one of a handful of B.C. Chamber recommendations to control ferry costs, but Greater Victoria Chamber CEO Bruce Carter, the author of the rationalization concept, said B.C. Ferries' own books show a terminal closure could save $30 million.
"There's no question duplication of terminals is a real financial challenge for B.C. Ferries," Carter said, adding it would not reduce service in Nanaimo.
"I want to be clear, we're talking terminals, not routes," Carter said. "It's a big difference."
After a public consultation process in the fall of 2011, B.C. Ferries still needs to cut $30 million.
Carter said it's time to offer solutions.
"The Victoria Chamber's solution is to make a plan, and consult on that plan," Carter said, It would be up to B.C. Ferries, or government to decide how rationalization would look, but Carter said running two routes through Departure Bay most of the year, then operating the Tsawwassen ferry through Duke Point during the summer high tourism season "makes a more meaningful conversation for Nanaimo." B.C. Ferries spokesman Darin Guenette said a decision on rationalization would be up to government. B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone said by email the ministry "is working with BC Ferries and looking at all routes to explore potential changes that would ensure the long-term sustainability of the ferry system."
© Copyright 2013