More than 20,000 people have signed a petition calling on the minister of transportation to return BC Ferries to government control, but Todd Stone says the suggestion doesn’t hold water.

The petition was started by Powell River resident Laural Eacott and has received support from thousands of people, including independent Delta-South MLA Vicki Huntington.

“Why cannot our provincial government see the value and necessity of support for our ‘provincial highway’ on the coastal waters for our ferry dependent communities?” the petition reads. “Inland ferry travel in BC is free. Coastal ferry travel is not.”

It calls on the ministry to make BC Ferries part of the government highway system like it was decades ago, suggesting it will reduce costs and fares.

But Stone said it would be unrealistic to have BC Ferries change hands, and it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

“Fundamentally putting ferries back into government doesn’t solve the underlying problems at BC Ferries, the challenging financial realities,” Stone said.

Supporters of the petition aren’t ready to back off yet.

On the petition page, Eacott invited people to a demonstration on the lawn of the BC Legislature “to show [Premier Christy] Clark that we are not happy, are not going to be quiet and go away.”

Fares for all ferry routes will be increasing by nearly four per cent in April.

BC Ferries was transformed into a private company that receives a taxpayer-funded subsidy after the Liberals were elected in 2001.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Legislative Bureau Chief Bhinder Sajan and The Canadian Press