Last week, B.C. Ferries announced some major changes, based on the principles of affordability, efficiency, and sustainability of the ferry service in our province.
The changes included reduced service on some routes, and the cancellation of Route 40 between Bella Coola and Port Hardy. It’s the job of an MLA to make sure that the concerns of people in the region are heard, which is why this week I’d like to write about this important topic.
While Bella Coola itself isn’t part of the riding that I represent, the cancellation of Route 40 has an impact here in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. I’ve received numerous letters from constituents and stakeholders concerned about the effect that the cancellation of this route will have, especially from those involved in the tourism industry.
The Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association, and many others have written to me asking that I speak out about the importance of Route 40 for our region. They point out that Route 40 isn’t just a commuter service between the Central Coast and Northern Vancouver Island. It’s also a key part of the provincial Discovery Coast Circle Route, which allows tourists to visit the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the North Coast, and the Cariboo-Chilcotin, bringing many tourists to our region.
For the tourist industry here in the Cariboo, losing some of the tourist traffic that comes from the circle route would have an impact on business, and that’s why I’ve been spending a lot of time lobbying my colleagues in the legislature on this issue. I met with Transportation Minister Todd Stone last week and presented the tourism industry’s case to him. I want you to know that this is an issue that I have and will be continuing to speak out on, because it’s one that is important for our region – after all, that’s what MLAs are for.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.