- Our Town
BC Ferries cut delivers blow to tourism operators
The Ferry Corporation proposal to discontinue the Ferry service to Bella Coola, on the surface, to the ferry executive, may seem like a justifiable cost cutting measure. However this cost cutting measure is a blow to the midriff of all those developing and established tourist operators along the Highway 20 corridor that have come to depend on this ferry service as part of their tourism enterprises.
With a reducing dependence on forestry, the establishment of the ferry service gave hope in an otherwise bleak future. The evolution from resource base to tourist base came down to just plain survival for many folks along this route. The loss of the ferry service will be critical to all of these tourism operators.
I continue to subscribe to the belief that while the original Freedom Road is in itself a great tourist attraction, the future for the Cariboo/Chilcotin Central Coast is a year round quality highway off the Chilcotin Plateau.
In 1919, a B.C. Government Department of Public Works Engineer by the name of Alexander Curruthers did a survey for such a road. He foresaw the future as few today can see it.
His survey proposed a road off the Plateau that would be hundreds of feet lower at its highest point compared to the “Freedom Road” high point, and would have grades no steeper than five percent compared to grades of twelve to eighteen percent on the existing road.
The distance between Bella Coola and Port Hardy is about a hundred and ten miles by water route, five to six hours by fast ferry, not eighteen as it currently is by somewhat fast ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy.
Surely this is the future for both developing commerce and tourism for Bella Coola, the Chilcotin and the Cariboo.
So here we are today, following the development of a ferry service where we have started traffic flowing, only now to undercut that process by ferry cancellation, and a government that continues to argue that there is no need of a better route off the Chilcotin plateau because the traffic does not warrant it.
There was no traffic over the Kelowna Connector until it was constructed, as there can never be traffic of any volume or commerce development over the existing “Freedom Road,” until it is virtually destroyed by reconstruction or replaced.