One of the owners of an RV park in Nanaimo, British Columbia, said when he first heard of British Columbia Ferries’ planned fare hike on April 1, he was incensed, according to the Nanaimo Daily News.
“Now that I’ve calmed down a bit and we did a little research, I think it’s going to stop some people from the mainland from coming to the island, especially those with large rigs,” said Scott Littlejohn, whose family owns Living Forest Oceanside Campground and RV Park which is located near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
Littlejohn fears the higher rate to $5.25 per foot from $2.25 per foot will stop Snow Birds trying to escape a Prairie winter to come to the island. The $5.25 rate per foot is applied to every foot after the first 20 feet, said British Columbia Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall.
“We’ve also taken off the overheight charge,” she said.
Prior to April an overheight fee of $72 was charged to RVs. “We figure it’s a wash but it is definitely going to hit those with longer rigs,” he said, “Many of the Snow Birders who come here drive those.”
The vast majority of the Snow Birds who go to Living Forest come from Saskatchewan and Alberta, said Littlejohn.
Fred Backer of Grande Prairie, Alberta, is one of those Albertans. His truck and trailer unit is about 46 feet long. “We like this place because of the weather it’s about 40 below in Grande Prairie,” he said.
Backer discovered Living Forest last year and decided to return again this year.
“With gas prices increasing and this new rate, I can’t see how we can afford to come to the island again. It already costs $200 each way to come.”
With the passenger fare for Backer and his wife and fees for his overheight trailer and the extra 26 feet, it costs Backer $202.50 plus taxes to bring the unit over.
After the rate hike on April 1, it is going to cost him $211 plus taxes to take his unit each way.
John Siegel lives on the island. The retired man said he has a great lifestyle as he drives his 30-foot RV around the island at his whim. “Occasionally, I do go down to California but what with the gas prices and the higher ferry rates coming, I think I’ll be staying on the island,” said Siegel.
Littlejohn said when ferry fares for RVs increase his business sees a drop in travellers from the mainland but sees “a huge increase in business from other parts of the Island.”