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B.C. government keeping 11 minor ferry routes afloat to cover COVID-19 losses

A B.C. Ferry is seen arriving at Horseshoe Bay near West Vancouver on March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward.
A B.C. Ferry is seen arriving at Horseshoe Bay near West Vancouver on March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has found funding to prevent cuts to 11 minor BC Ferries routes.

The province and BC Ferries had been feuding over who was responsible to cover the losses.

The province will spend about $180,000 to temporarily avoid cuts to the routes until September. Revenues at BC Ferries have plummeted due to federal guidelines reducing capacity to half and a plea for travellers to avoid all but essential travel.

READ MORE: Steady traffic but reduced capacity on BC Ferries as May long weekend kicks off

“Our priority is ensuring affordable, reliable ferry service is there for people in coastal communities as we carry out B.C.’s restart plan and prepare for our recovery,” Trevena said.

“Ferries are an essential service and a key part to the needs of our coastal communities.”

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The province is hoping the financial support will only be short term. Premier John Horgan had been asking the federal government for additional funding for BC Ferries to cover losses.

READ MORE: BC Ferries passengers must now have face coverings when on board

“We are already seeing ferry ridership begin to grow, and ferries should be in a position to respond to this demand,” Trevena said.

“I’m pleased the immediate, proposed service reductions will not proceed and the current routes will remain in place through the summer, meaning service will be there for people and coastal communities as we continue our restart plan.”

BC Ferries were planning service cuts to the 11 routes due to the reduced pandemic ridership. The ferry operator has been losing almost $1 million per day during the pandemic.

The targeted sailings were on routes to Salt Spring, Powell River, Texada, Gabriola, Denman, Hornby, Quadra Island, Cortes, Saltery Bay and Haida Gwaii.

B.C. ferry workers’ union concerned about new mask rules
B.C. ferry workers’ union concerned about new mask rules