BC Ferries chair says it would have been ‘confusing’ if she addressed recent issues

BC Ferries chair says it would have been 'confusing' if she addressed recent issues

The Coastal Celebration has returned to service just under two weeks after it was pulled for a mechanical issue, and senior officials at BC Ferries are explaining why they were not available to answer questions during the issues that ensued.

Joy MacPhail, the chair of BC Ferries, says she did not do interviews while the vessel was out of service because her role is speaking to future plans for the company, which would have been confusing for the public.

“I’m happy to talk about a long-term vision, but I also know how confusing it could get to the public if I were out there, talking about a message about months or years away from now when indeed their concerns are very immediate, and I respect that,” MacPhail said in an interview with CHEK’s Rob Shaw.

“So it’s appropriate for our communications people to be on the ground, and explaining what’s going on and helping as much as possible solving the individual problems.”

The Coastal Celebration had to be pulled from service twice the past month, the first time was over the July-long weekend, and MacPhail says the company learned from that weekend as well.

“Lessons learned from the July-long weekend are numerous, and all are being addressed,” she said. “And I hope they’re being addressed in a way that will resolve many of the problems that the public faces.”

The vessel returned to service on July 28, restoring the eight daily sailings it provides.

B.C. Premier David Eby says he spoke with BC Ferries management on Friday and said the recent issues are not acceptable.

“The ferries are central to who we are as a province and it’s not an optional service for people they depend on that service. So I delivered the message to BC Ferries management that we need them to do everything they can,” he said in a news conference.

“The message was that they need to do everything possible to ensure that people have access to affordable reliable ferry service that they’ll have the government’s support to do that work. To be innovative to find ways to deliver.”

Trevor Halford, the BC United critic for transportation, says senior leadership at BC Ferries or representatives from the BC government should have been actively communicating during the travel backlogs.

“There’s been an absolute absence of leadership,” Halford said. “People in the last couple of weeks, has suffered incredibly, because we have 80 year old couples that are sleeping in their car, and we’ve got inaccurate information coming from BC Ferries on the website, and now they’re referring people to Twitter.”

“The fact is, is that none of these senior people can get in front of a camera and actually explain what is going on, I think is completely unacceptable, and now it seems like they’re getting shamed into it…When the going gets tough BC Ferries leadership gets hiding, and that’s unacceptable.”

-With files from CHEK’s Rob Shaw

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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