VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – People who live in ferry-dependent communities say ferry service should be viewed as an investment, not an expense to cut.

The call comes as BC Ferries tells people to brace for more service cuts, but the crown corporation does say the province decides on service levels and will talk with ferry-dependent communities about how many sailings there ought to be, especially as some are very light.

Josephine Mrozewski is with the Tri-Island Ferry Advisory Committee, serving parts of Northern Vancouver Island.

“Service fees are based on the premise that the government is paying a lot for coastal ferry service, and I question whether, in fact, it really is overpaying for something that underpins every aspect of life, activity, economic development in a huge region of the province,” says Mrozewski.

Evan Putterill with the North and Central Coast Ferry Advisory Committee, serving Haida Gwai, Bella Bella and Prince Rupert, says the province needs to focus on how to stimulate the economy on the north and central coast.

“And they’re not doing that. They’re just looking at cutting more sailings while the fares go up at a rate higher than inflation,” believes Putterill. “That just adds to the cycle of economic decline in our regions and I think it’s poor economic policy.”

BC Ferries says some sailings have no passengers.