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On the Waterfront

BC Ferries refunds more than $1 million for expired tickets. And it's not done yet.

Christina Montgomery
Dec 12th, 2011

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

B.C. Ferries, which will end the year at least $20 million in the red, has spent more than $1 million in refunds to customers holding expired prepaid tickets.

But the refunds could climb to more than $2 million by the time they're fully calculated several months from now, a company spokesman has told the Victoria Times Colonist

The payouts are the pricey conclusion of a series of decisions that began early this year when the company refused to refund the tickets, prompting a public outcry and threats of legal action.

Do we really want the private sector securing our coastlines?

Christina Montgomery
Dec 11th, 2011

Aerial view of Perce, Quebec, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It's a decision that might be efficient and might be cost-effective, but it raises some troubling questions about our sovereignty and our long-term ability to effectively patrol and police Canada's enormous coastlines.

For a post-9/11 country bounded on three sides by water, it's a critical matter to sort out the best way to secure those coastlines for lots of reasons, one of which is the threat of terrorism.

But there are other reasons, many of them connected to the Arctic waters that are about to blossom with trade, resource development, transport and military vessels -- from many nations.

Canadians were warned a month ago by the federal auditor general that we haven't budgeted for the cost of maintaining our military machinery.

That's grim news, given the amount of military work that has already been contracted out.

Third mystery sea turtle washes up near Tofino

Christina Montgomery
Dec 9th, 2011

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It's a mystery where they're coming from, but it's pretty clear that cooling sea temperatures are responsible for stunning and trapping several sea turtles that washed ashore in the past to weeks near Tofino.

Wednesday, for the third time, a green sea turtle was found washed up and stranded on a beach in Pacific Rim park on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

 Visitors to Combers Beach spotted the animal, which appeared somewhere between comatose and dead.

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North Van kisses its fireboats goodbye

Christina Montgomery
Dec 8th, 2011

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It makes a certain kind of financial sense, but it's going to be tough for residents of the North Shore to accept the disappearance of the two fireboats that have been berthed under the north end of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge for years -- especially since they are used to fight an average of five fires per year.

And it might take the next unfortunate waterfront fire to determine whether the move makes safety sense. Some of the fires the vessels are called out to are also accessible by land.

The pair of high-speed boats were part of the fleet assembled for municipalities around the port after the city of Vancouver sold the beloved old Guardian fireboat to San Francisco in 1987 in a move that prompted enormous debate about how well the smaller fleet would do as a replacement.

David Hahn's No. 2 man takes over BC Ferries. For less money.

Christina Montgomery
Dec 6th, 2011

David Hahn, the controversial CEO of BC Ferries, will be replaced by Mike Corrigan, his second-in-command -- but at a lower salary, the company has announced.

Corrigan, now the chief operating officer, will take over the top job when Hahn retires at the end of the year.

He'll make about $700,000 a year compared to Hahn's salary of about $1 million, according to Donald Hayes, chair of the company's board of directors.

Corrigan, who served for nine years as COO and helped establish a new safety program after the sinking of the Queen of the North in 2006, is taking over at a difficult time for the company.

Did ferry fares really have to go up?

Christina Montgomery
Dec 5th, 2011

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It's been hard to avoid the headlines, the political sniping and the flood of letters-to-the-editor as ferry users brace for the fare hikes that kick in next Monday.

The company is calling the hike a fuel surcharge, something it's allowed to apply, with permission, when fuel costs rise significantly and it has to pass the cost along to passengers.

There's already a five-per-cent surcharge on the minor routes to account for earlier fuel increases. On Dec. 12, the price of a ticket goes up 2.5 per cent on major routes and by the same amount on the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route -- the first time the surcharge has been applied there. 

The response has been predictable. And understandable.

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