Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Piracy on the BC Seas!

Fair Ferry Fares or UnFair?

Fuel prices are increasing all over and the West Coast of BC is not immune. Those large car ferries which carry people, cars, trucks and freight back and forth between the mainland and Vancouver Island -- as well as the smaller islands and isolated island communities on the coast -- use a great deal of fuel doing so.

With the increasing fuel costs there have been constant annual fare increases and fuel tariffs added to the price of the ticket to use the services of BC Ferries, the Crown Corporation which runs this largest of ferry services in BC. There have been smaller private services which have started, but none have been able to find the recipe to make it work so far.

In the mean-time the prices just keep going up and the people who live in these remote communities and these islands in the passages off the British Columbian Mainland are starting to complain about the high costs involved not only for travel too and from their communities, but also of the goods which have to be ferried to their communities.

The Provincial Government does have some obligation to provide the ferry service to these islands here in BC where it seems to me the Federal Government does on the East Coast... I think that might have to do with the fact that the ferries on the East Coast tend to connect one province with another. Why it is one way here and another way there really is not the main theme of this article though.

What I sometimes wonder -- inspired by some of what my Father has argued at the dinner table -- is why the folk who live in isolated places should be subsidized for their transportation by the rest?

Yes, I have put forward arguments to do with the public transit system and why people in the remote areas should not pay higher amounts for poorer service in past articles. Perhaps those arguments come into play here as well, though there are some differences. People who are living on many of the islands and remote communities are often doing it for the very remoteness and benefits of that isolation from the rest of the world. There are many who might want to live that far off the beaten track if they could afford to either because of travel difficulty or because they simply would not be able to find work or afford a nice place out there. In the suburban areas of the metropolitan area, the people are still choosing to live within the city so-to-speak but are having to live a bit out from the core for economical and other reasons.

That really pulls in my Dad's argument. Most of the people with property on the islands -- other than those who are working in industries based on those islands and remote places like in the forestry, fishery, and timber industries -- are their for the advantages of being away from things. They are reaping the benefit of living on an island in a small community where they can practise whatever they do. Many are artists and craftspeople and some do crafts that might be awkward in a city in any case. -- raising sheep to harvest the wool so that you can create woollen work from scratch in a natural way is not easy to do in the city. It might be easier to fire raku pottery in a rural setting as well, or tanning your own leather, or welding metal sculptures or finding the peace for painting away from the hubbub of the city. Perhaps added cost to travel too and from where you live might be the price of that peace and solitude?

It is just as a person who might want to live in a house rather than a condo apartment or townhouse pays more for that slightly greater peace and solitude not only with higher initial price but higher upkeep and taxes -- forgetting those paying a premium to be in the downtown core in a condo apartment in a luxury high rise... who are also paying more for those benefits.

Granted, perhaps there should be some moderation in the transportation costs, especially when it comes to shipping of the necessities like groceries and so-forth. I am no expert on budgets or balances.

I do know there are folk like my Dad who have always wanted to live in a cabin on an island, but just were put off by the costs involved while they were working and some of the dangers of the isolation after retiring.

They are looking at linking a number of the islands with a chain of bridges and highways and in the end very much reducing costs of transportation. The plans even talk about a link between the mainland and Vancouver Island... makes me wonder... if those plans become more than dreams and become concrete plans which budgets start being put together for... how many folk in these places will cry "foul" because their isolation might be disrupted?

~ Darrell


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