Claire Trevena, MLA and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, spoke about highways, BC Ferries, and fish farms during a visit to the North Island.
Trevena was invited to participate in a luncheon and Q&A session hosted by Community Futures Mount Waddington at Seven Hills Golf and Country Club on June 6, where she had the opportunity to answer a variety of questions from North Islanders. The Q&A followed Community Future’s Annual General meeting and was open to Community Futures members and invited guests.
“As the minister, I find myself frustrated at times because I can’t come back regularly and be on the ground as much as I was,” said Trevena during a brief speech before the Q&A session. “The communities of the North Island are continually in the back of my mind everytime I make a decision, whether it is on the ministerial level or the cabinet table.”
One of the first questions was posed by Kwakiutl Elected Chief Ross Hunt, who asked:“Will highway 19 ever get wider? It’s summer time now and there are campers and boaters and increased logging trucks.”
Trevena responded, stating, “On Highway 19 we are fixing the intersection at Port McNeill on Campbell Way and we are working on a number of roads, particularly because of the increase of logging trucks. We have the commercial vehicle safety enforcement branch out in force, but the widening of it isn’t happening.”
She noted the Sayward Passing Lanes project, but added that they are not looking at widening major sections of the rest of the highway yet.
Creative Exposure Communications Consultant Angela Smith asked about customer dissatisfaction with BC Ferries and how they continue to operate.
“If BC Ferries is not helping to foster economic development and answering the call of communities, what is the recourse in looking at changing their contract? Who do we speak to in order to ensure BC Ferries is responsive to their needs?”
Trevena answered: “As the minister, I was committed to doing a number of things with BC Ferries – what was the easy one was reducing the fares back in April, so we worked with BC Ferries to reduce the fares and bring back the free seniors fare.”
She added that the government has a “review underway, just about finished, of BC Ferries which looks at many areas such as the relationship between BC Ferries and communities, and the responsibility of BC Ferries to work in the public interest.”
“My first priorities were to deal with reducing fares, and my next priority, when I get the report read and sorted through, is to work on the next stage that is ensuring that the contract and the act and everything else reflects the public interest.”
One of the last question’s asked was about the process behind the joint decision-making process with First Nations for Broughton Archipelago fish farm tenures.
“We are working very carefully because we don’t want to jeopardize jobs but we also want to ensure we protect wild salmon and we respect the rights of indigenous peoples on the North Island and elsewhere,” said Trevena, adding, “It’s a balance we need to invest in ensuring we have the wild salmon there and we have to ensure we have the respect of indigenous peoples and we have to ensure that we can keep people in BC and in the North Island working. We are very aware of that tight balance.”
Once the issue was brought up, Chief Hunt took the opportunity to provide the Kwakiutl perspective.
“Every nation is its own entity just like the Canadian Government and every nation does have a say whether or not they would like to participate,” said Hunt, adding, “We are doing our due diligence and trying to work with proponents on how we can address issues and look at where the problem is because it’s impacting our subsistence and inherent rights. We want to see the North Island flourish because we are always going to be here.”