Thursday, February 04, 2010

Requesting a course change from Chairman Hahn

Gary Coons, the MLA for the North coast has added his office to the list of local officials and residents seeking to change the mind of BC Ferries CEO and President David Hahn, who last November appeared in Prince Rupert to outline his plans to introduce the Tsawwassen to Prince Rupert route to the BC Ferries travel itinerary in the summer of 2011.
An appearance in Prince Rupert which CFTK documented in a news item from December, providing some background on Mr. Hahn's appearance and some of the discussion that flowed from it.

With the local reaction to the Chairman's plans less than enthusiastic and potential jobs and revenue at stake for the various communities of the Northwest, Bulkley Valley and Central Interior, the MLA who has been a long time advocate for ferry service on the North coast took to his word processor to offer up his thoughts.

Following the lead of Prince Rupert City council and Tourism Prince Rupert, in sending his own correspondence to Liberal Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond, seeking her help in changing Mr. Hahns direction of sail on this initiative.

Among some of the concerns from the MLA is the potential loss of some 100 full time casual jobs and 40 student employment opportunities, as well as the unknown number of full time positions that could be affected by a change of the point of assembly for the vessel to Tsawwassen from Prince Rupert.

The drastic reduction of sailings out of Prince Rupert is another concern for Coons, who suggests that those substantial reductions planned would have a tourism impact from Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert and along the Yellowhead highway to Prince George.

City Council offered up their own letter to the Minister back in January outlining much of the same items that concern the MLA, their efforts became focused on the challenge after David Hahn's appearance in November created a rather vociferous backlash in the community.

His November chat was met with lukewarm interest from the audience in attendance, and included some rather harsh words from Councillor Gordon-Payne who expressed her frustration with the way that BC Ferries handled their session, and the total disregard for the people who spoke that BC Ferries seemed to exhibit back in that November.
Considering the frequent hands off approach that the Liberal government has had with matters regarding BC Ferries, it's not known what impact the letter writing campaign will have on Minister Bond or the Premier.

Still if Mr. Hahn is paying attention, he will quickly come to the realization that his planned refinements to the travel schedules for the North coast aren't gaining much favour from the target audience.

The proposed Tsawwassen to Prince Rupert run is proving to be about as popular as one of the infamous breakfast specials from the bad old days of BC Ferries cuisine.

It's proving to have little appeal and seems to be rather hard to digest.

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