Sounder News

BC Ferries says it will be resuming in-person meetings with Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) members and coastal communities to begin to tackle ideas and requests from ferry users up and down the coast.

The in-person FAC meetings were all put on hold in October of 2023 after events at some of the fall meetings prompted security concerns for BCF staff.

At one meeting, according to BC Ferries staff at the time, a member of the public had uttered a threat that if BC Ferries didn’t make changes, that person would take a gun to everyone.

Lindsay Mathews, BC Ferries Vice-President of Public Affairs and Marketing said, “while it was important to take necessary time to review our safety and security protocols following a serious incident last fall, we have been eager to get back to face-to-face engagement. I’m encouraged we can now put our focus back where it needs to be – on important discussions with people in the communities we serve.

“For the rest of this year, we’re looking forward to prioritizing everything we’ve heard from communities, ensuring that people can see and feel actions being taken in an order that best aligns with the public interest across the broader ferry system.”

Media staff with BC Ferries said the May FAC meetings will be held virtually, and those meetings will only be for FAC members, not general members of the public.

The outcomes of those FAC meetings will be shared with the ferry communities in June and July.

According to BC Ferries, “Community members will have the opportunity to share their input at that time and will be open to all to attend. Our current priority is to keep FAC meetings focused specifically on resetting the relationship with our Committees and getting their input first on prioritizing the actions, ideas and requests that have come forward through FACs over the past few years.”

Steve Earle, co-Chair of the Gabriola FAC said, “the FAC is pleased to see a return to community engagement, and we are looking forward to meetings with BC Ferries in May and June. We do not yet have a clear understanding of the role or the goals of the new Community Prioritization Panel, but we will be participating along with other FACs, and will do our best to ensure that the interests of Gabriola and all island communities are served.”

BC Ferries said all FAC chairs have been invited to participate in the CPP and the panel will deliver a final public report by Oct. 31.

This report is proposed to help guide how BC Ferries reviews and makes decisions on changes needed to improve service and experience for customers, and also help inform long-term decisions that align with the ongoing Charting the Course vision process.

In order to create a safe and respectful environment for all, BC Ferries has and will continue to implement improvements to its responsiveness to feedback and overall engagement approach, as well as other changes based on recommendations made in its safety review:

• Establishing safety and security policies for public events that align with WorkSafe BC requirements.

• Rolled out a new mandatory respectful workplace policy and training across the company, including training in Prevention of Violence in the Workplace for all BC Ferries representatives who will take part in community events.

• Updating the Terms of Reference and Code of Conduct to ensure the correct foundations are in place to support a mutually respectful and productive relationship with FACs.

• Establishing new processes for public events, including the request for participants to RSVP ahead of time, new sign-in requirements, and a new Code of Conduct that will apply to all public events.

• Establishing plans and templates to support safety and security assessments in advance of FAC and community meetings.

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