Coastal NDP MPs win bid to include BC Ferries in new federal building fund

BELLA BELLA — Changes requested by coastal NDP MPs and announced this week that will include BC Ferries in a new federally funded building program may also bring welcome relief from skyrocketing marine travel costs, MP Nathan Cullen said from Bella Bella.

“We hope savings in capital costs through the New Building Canada Fund will allow BC Ferries to reduce the costs of passenger services,” Cullen said.

“BC Ferries has been increasing fares and decreasing services to the North and Central coasts for far too long.  I hope an injection of federal funding for terminals, refits and new vessels will help to ease the pressure of rising fare costs for passengers.

“I’ve just spent the week on Haida Gwaii and in Bella Bella, where dozens of constituents again told me of their frustrations and fears about diminishing ferry services and the huge impact on their coastal lives.”

The $14-billion New Building Canada Fund is intended to support projects of local, regional and national significance that promote economic growth, job creation and productivity.  The federal government will work with provinces, municipalities and the private sector to fund economically-focused projects.

Last December, Cullen and his coastal colleagues (Rachel Blaney (North Island-Powell River), Randall Garrison (Esquimalt-Saanish-Sooke), Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni), Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford), Malcolmson, and Murray Rankin (Victoria) co-signed a letter to Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi asking him to change eligibility restrictions to allow BC Ferries to apply to the New Building Canada Fund.

"We believe that enabling federal infrastructure funding from the [New Canada Building] Fund will help reduce costs and enable savings to be passed on to ferry users," the MPs wrote.

As of February 29, 395 projects had been approved under the New Building Canada Fund.  Project costs totalled $4.5 billion, of which the federal government contributed $1.2 billion.

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Contact:           Shelley Browne, 250-877-4140; nathan.cullen.c1@parl.gc.ca