Nanaimo civic leaders are unhappy with some members of the Victoria business community for suggesting the closure of one Nanaimo's ferry terminals to save B.C. Ferries money.
At its annual general meeting earlier this year, the B.C. Chamber voted in favour of a resolution calling for "terminal rationalization," based on the idea Nanaimo could lose one B.C. Ferries terminal.
Bruce Carter, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO, tabled the resolution.
Carter said the Victoria chamber has lobbied the Island and provincial chambers of commerce to rein in costs for the publicly owned ferry provider.
It became official policy at the B.C. Chamber 's AGM, held in Nanaimo.
"We have a policy on B.C. Ferries that talks about terminal rationalization as a thing that needs to be done and the Nanaimo ferry (terminal) is one of them," Carter said. "We need to come up with a plan."
With B.C. Ferries losing $30 million a year and running a $26-million annual deficit, cuts are needed to control spiraling fares.
"B.C. Ferries' own books show closing Duke Point would save $30 million," Carter said.
Mayor John Ruttan said Victoria should look closer to home for ferries savings.
"If the Victoria Chamber does want to go nose-to-nose there's another alternative," Ruttan said. "Maybe they should consider the possibility to close down, or substantially reduce Swartz Bay, and they could take the Duke Point (ferry.)"
Joe Stanhope, Regional District of Nanaimo board chairman, was blunt: "I don't know why they're putting their nose in our business," Stanhope said. "Someone should tell them two words, and the second one is 'off.'"
Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce interim CEO, confirmed that Nanaimo voted for the resolution, but not terminal closures.
"We understand government has to do something critical with what looks like runaway expenses," Smythe said. "We don't agree that any terminal in Nanaimo should be closed because of that."
Sasha Angus, Nanaimo Economic Development Corp. CEO, said he doesn't support closing terminals "without any more discussion" on a variety of issues surrounding how B.C. Ferries can cut costs.
Concerned about losing a terminal, Nanaimo members insisted references to Nanaimo terminals be removed from the resolution, said Mike Delves, former Nanaimo chamber chairman, who was at the May AGM.
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