During a recent visit to Bella Coola and places along Highway 20 to Williams Lake, NDP North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and NDP Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Jane Shin heard the cancellation of the Discovery Coast ferry is having the serious impacts people living in those communities feared it would.
As soon as Shin landed at the Bella Coola airport and was met by Rice, a senior citizen came up and asked them what is going to be done about the ferry.
“It’s the first thing I heard about when I arrived and the last thing I heard about leaving the region,” Shin said. “It’s a huge concern.”
During a stop at Redstone, the MLAs met Felix and Jasmin Schellenberg, who opened the Kinikinik Restaurant and store there last Labour Day weekend.
The Schellenbergs told them how dire the situation is.
“We have many lodge owners who stop in for meals at the restaurants from Bella Coola and Anahim Lake and some say it’s disastrous,” Felix told the Tribune.
The Schellenbergs also own land in Kleena Kleene where they hay.
During a recent conversation with a woman who normally works at a lodge near there he learned she has no work this summer.
“She was steadily employed all the years before and now she has no employment, he said.
It is not just lodges, restaurants and gas stations, it’s a ripple effect going through the whole region that is very serious, Felix added.
Many people and organizations have requested government do an economic impact analysis of ferry traffic to the region, but so far government has not agreed that is necessary, Rice said.
“One business owner told us if the government looked at the tax base that’s been withdrawn because of the cancellation of the Discovery Coast Ferry government would find the $17 million they want to save would no longer be there,” Rice said. “There are many people in the region who are committed to working with government to come up with solutions.”