I was surprised to see the above headline (“Government not considering extended ferry service”) on page 3 of the May 9 edition of the Lakes District News. While it was qualified by a smaller statement that the petition had not yet been sent, I believe the large, bold headline proclaimed that the campaign for extended ferry service had already failed.
I want to assure the supporters of extended ferry service that the petitions and letters that have been received will be sent out next week. This will also kick off the communication campaign to the politicians and ministries confirming the importance of extended ferry service and the overall net benefits to the region and the province.
The Francois Lake ferry has long been the glue that holds our community together and defines who we are and where we live.
In 1986, the Southside citizens mobilized and fought against Bill Vander Zalm’s initiative to impose tolls on our ferry. We won. Again, in 2001, the new Libreal government under Gordon Campbell was determined to implement a toll structure on all inland ferries in B.C. This time, hundreds of local residents banded together to resist this absurd proposition which culminated in 2002 with a huge roadblock and demonstration on Highway 16. A dedicated group of Southsiders formulated a business case entitled Two Worlds Divided By Two Miles. The report helped convince the Liberal government that the Francois Lake ferry actually was a very profitable investment for B.C., bringing in approximately $15,000 per day of royalty and tax revenue at a cost of $5,000 per day. Instead of imposing tolls on the old ferry, they decided to build a larger high-capacity vessel!
So take heart fellow residents, we are persistent bunch when we all get together. This campaign is just about to begin.