A new study commissioned by the Cariboo Regional District and the West Chilcotin Tourism Association has found that major cuts in BC Ferries service levels have resulted in a localized recession within the Bella Coola community.
According to the report by the Larose Research Strategy, passenger ridership dropped by 46 per cent and tourism revenues fell by $3.9-million after the cuts were made to the Discovery Coast Circle Tour route through Chilcotin – from Port Hardy to Bella Coola.
Both the provincial government and ferry corporation decided to proceed with cost reduction measures that would save $725,000 per year. Service was reduced by 90 per cent with the use of a much smaller and slower ferry.
However, that also resulted in $870,000 in lost tax revenues from local businesses in the region. Three in four business were experiencing decreased incomes in the year following cuts to the ferry service, and approximately one in five tourism-based businesses in the region face foreclosure.
These findings come just weeks after the provincial government sunk a B.C. Ferries proposal to eliminate the major ferry route between West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo’s Departure Bay. It would have rerouted traffic to Tsawwassen and Duke Point, however, local businesses at Horseshoe Bay and downtown Nanaimo would likely have suffered greatly.
Earlier this year, a Union of B.C. Municipalities study found that fare hikes on B.C. Ferries services have cost the provincial economy $2.3-billion in GDP over a ten year period.
Feature Image: BC Ferries via Shutterstock