Bryn Jones-VaillancourtBryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Chef Local Food Advocate Darmouth Proud

Ferry Privatization: Not a wise choice for our city!

City Councillor McCluskey had suggested that privatizing the harbour ferry service is an option instead of  cutting some late-night runs. Gloria McCluskey is quoted in the Chronicle Herald article as saying: "But if they’re closing the ferry off early, I’d certainly stand up and make a motion to sell it,” McCluskey said Wednesday. “Sell it to somebody who will operate it the way it should be operated.”

Firstly, I find Mrs. McCluskey's proposition not well thought out.  I am pro-labour and pro-community and I firmly believe that privatizing the harbour ferries would be harmful to HRM.   The harbour ferry has operated in our wonderful city since 1752, and until 1955 was the only quick, efficient way to connect Dartmouth to Halifax.  Nostalgia aside, the harbour ferries still provide a valuable service in transporting citizens between the downtowns of Dartmouth and Halifax.   Metro transit, via passenger standards set by the council itself, was looking to reduce ferry crossings.  While I accept the fact that we need to look at the demand for late night ferry services, privatizing the ferry service should not be considered an option.    The fact of the matter is that if ferries were privatized, the service would not look like what we have become accustomed to:

1. Fares would increase

2. Service would be reduced.

3. Loss of good wages for workers

4. Loss of benefit in the local economy due to lower wages/jobs

One has to simply look to the new MetroX to the airport, with a fare of 3.25 per trip versus the rate of the Airporter bus service at a whopping 19.50 fare one way and $36 return.   A private company would need to have a ferry fare that would make it profitable for them.  Additionally, due to demand for service, it is certain that the schedule of the harbour would be reduced because late-night crossing would not prove profitable.  There are countless examples where a public service has been privatized, and that the bottom line has become the priority.  We can look to the privatization of Nova Scotia Power as an example, where additional costs have been passed down to the customer base.   Also, if the service was privatized our community would lose some good paying jobs: we must always consider the human factor in our government decisions.  We are on the verge of loosing jobs due to the sale of the Imperial Oil refinery.  We are loosing jobs due to federal cuts, and at the provincial level due to decentralization.   We must ask ourselves do we want a council that takes away jobs, and reduces people's incomes.  The answer is no: it is time that we elect people who will stand up for families, students, youth and everyone in our community.  It is possible to have a healthy, strong community and a financial responsible government: the two are not mutually exclusive.

We do need to look at service levels and address inefficiencies in a system that is publicly funded. However, we must be proactive, not reactive.   When the ferry system was run by the former City of Dartmouth, there were times during the year that the ferry did not run on Sundays.   We as local government and as community stakeholders must come together to discuss a solution that addresses everyone's concerns.   We need to consider the long term implications of the centre plan, and how that can increase density within the downtown cores.  Possible solutions could be:

1) Approaching businesses within the downtown cores of Dartmouth and Halifax to aid in subsidizing ferry runs later at night

2) Consider service reductions on Sundays only

3) Consider focusing full ferry service from April 1 - Nov 30, with a reduced Sunday and late night service from Dec 1 - March 31

We must look at the big picture! Our current city government claims that they are for sustainable, public transit.  However, they continue to expand the city out and to build roads to encourage the continued dependence on cars.  What is the cost of supporting a public transit system versus the environmental impacts of more cars on the road.   We must develop policy and practices to further encourage active transportation and use of public transit.  Councillors are there to act in the best interest of all citizens, and taking away services or reducing services does not accomplish that mandate.

This is the time to take a stand, flex our democratic muscles and say enough is enough! On October 20th, we need a new council for HRM; a council that puts the issues of family, community, sustainable business and long-term environmental sustainability first.

On October 20th: Vote for an open, honest,citizen focused council! Vote Bryn for District 5 - Dartmouth Centre.

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