03/11/2014 04:48 EDT | Updated 05/11/2014 05:59 EDT

Powell River Kings hockey team could be lost to BC Ferries cuts

Cuts to BC Ferries service and rate hikes could mean the end of the Powell Rivers' Junior A hockey team, according to the team's president.

Powell River Kings Society president Robert Villani says proposed changes to the Saturday and Sunday ferry schedules will shift its double-header hockey games from Saturday to Sunday afternoon, substantially cutting gate revenue.

"If the new schedule is imposed," writes Vilanni in a letter to NDP MLA Nicholas Simons, "in all likelihood we will be forced to cease operations."

Simons brought Villani's letter to the legislature Tuesday. During question period, the MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast pointed out the Kings won the coastal conference four out of the last five years and have nurtured many NHLers including Stanley Cup champion Brad Bombardir

"How does the minister respond to the Powell River Kings, which could lose their hockey team?" Simons demanded of Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

Stone says B.C. Ferries is currently fine-tuning the schedule to take into account the concerns of coastal communities.

"These are tough decisions, Stone said, "and they are going to have some impacts"

Ferry schedule fine-tuned

Stone says under-utilized ferry sailings need to be cut in order to "ensure the ferries are there for generations to come."

"The 10:10 p.m. PT sailing from Texada Island to Powell River can carry 49 cars and 159 people, but only has three cars, eight people and seven crew at that time," he said. "That's a 5.5 per cent utilization rate."

Simons says the hockey club has an annual budget of $800,000, much of which is spent in the community and asked Stone why the B.C. government has not commissioned a study on the financial impact of the proposed ferry cuts.

The question was never answered.

READ: Powell River Kings letter