This screen shot comes courtesy of a story on Vancitybuzz, a story that already has 4.6k shares in less than 24 hours.
Can you believe it? By late April / early May, there will be a Friday Night 11pm sailing of Pacific Ferries’ 46 passenger vessel from Coal Harbour to Gibsons Landing. And man, does it take me BACK.
When I first moved to Sechelt, back in 1987, I was a surburbanite-slash-city girl only coming up for a summer job. All my roots were in the Lower Mainland – journalism school pals, childhood friends, siblings and parents, university. So the ferries were of huge importance. I considered Vancouver ‘home’, and whenever I had time off from my work as a production specialist at the local newspaper I was on the first ferry back and the latest one returning.
The ferries were small, but went on every hour. Every hour!! If you mistimed your trip to Langdale or the boat was full, well, 45 minutes later in looped another boat. Just long enough in between for a leg-stretching amble, a visit to the terminal washroom, and pickup from a newspaper box. Good thing, because that’s all there was. No food or drink, only one bathroom at the bottom of the lot, and acres of parking lot.
I loved going into the city for get-togethers with friends after work. If I started my day at the job early, I could be at the terminal for a 4 or 5pm sailing and downtown in those days in less than 30 minutes from Horseshoe Bay. Time for dinner and a movie and I could STILL get the last boat home at 11:25. That was one of the last times ferry travel on the Sunshine Coast was available late and affordable enough to use. It was a great time to be on the Coast.
Fast forward to today, where we seem to be going backwards in terms of service availability and affordability. As stalwart Sunshine Coasters, or Coasties as I like to refer to us, we have become brainwashed over the years into accepting steadily eroding sailings and ever increasing costs. We tell ourselves: it keeps the hordes at bay! But real estate is so much more affordable! The commute isn’t that bad! They have to finance new boats! I love the Sunshine Coast so much it doesn’t hurt that it’s so expensive to get into the city! My kids can do without opportunities the city provides – team sports, arts & culture, specialty educational services!
But in our heart of hearts, we know our ferry dependent communities on BC’s West Coast are being economically strangled, despite the huge contribution we make to the province’s economy. And, not only do we have to put up with less and less services that cost more and more after-tax money, we have to put up with our mainland & backcountry brothers and sisters telling us: “You chose to live there, if you don’t like it, leave.”
Well, plenty of us have. While interior folks have continued to benefit from FREE ferries, in locations where they duplicate roads to the same destinations, we have seen families leave the community in large part because of the difficulty and expense of reaching the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island (try two ferries in one day with schedules that miss connecting by 3 impossible hours!). Coastal communities across BC are seeing median age levels rise and local offerings such as colleges/universities disappear, leaving regions increasingly starved for tax revenue and local opportunities for education that could offset the imposed isolation via provincial coastal ferry policy.
This is why the announcement of a fast ferry late night sailing on Friday evenings is so important. This 11pm ferry from Coal Harbour on a par for cost for a walk-on ticket for the BC Ferries Horseshoe Bay to Langdale run, is a glimpse into what life on the Coast could be again. It comes on the heels of daily morning and early evening service from Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons Landing via Pacific Ferries.
There are, of course, caveats to anything. Like parking for up to 40 vehicles in the Landing (see this page on Pacific Ferries’ site, problematic for event days in the Landing) and surrounding neighbourhood. Or needing a washroom mid-trip (can you make it 30 minutes? Depends, if you get my drift).
All in all I am cheered by this new development. Similar private ferry offerings are in development for Vancouver to Victoria Harbour and Vancouver to Nanaimo.
But I have to ask: why is it we must depend on private operators to do well what our provincial privately owned corporation does so poorly?
BC Ferry Coalition Media Page – just look at all those well-researched stories about the plight of coastal communities
CONTACT PACIFIC FERRIES:
Linda Feuerhelm – Director of Marketing and Media Relations