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General · 23rd March 2013
Jim Abram
Good morning to you all! This report will be fairly rushed due to deadlines, but there are important issues contained herein, so please read on!

B.C. Ferries - What are we going to do?

As you are probably all aware, we will once again be experiencing another fare hike of 4.1% on April 1st, and then again next year in the same amount.

As your Director and Vice Chair of the SRD Board I had the privilege of meeting with the Minister of Transportation in Victoria on March 12th along with all of the other Chairs of coastal RD's and the Islands Trust. We had a full hour to state our case regarding the ludicrous consultation that they did that will help them determine which of our scheduled runs they will cut right after the election, should they form government. We impressed upon the Minister all of the reasons why the ferry system needs to be considered as part of the entire Highways system and why the fares need to be rolled back, not increased. She listened but made no commitments except that there will be cuts to service. We did make some headway on the issue of considering the ferry system along with the rest of the highways infrastructure.

We then met with our MLA Claire Trevena, Maurine Karagianis, the critic for B.C. ferries and Nicholas Simmons of the Sunshine Coast who is a staunch supporter of our communities regarding ferry issues. We also had a brief moment with the leader of the Opposition, Adrian Dix. We explained all of our issues as community representatives and asked for support of our points should the NDP form government. There is no doubt that all of them understood the concerns we brought to them and that they shared with us. The ferries will be considered as part of the highways infrastructure and some level of roll back will be considered if they form government. The one caveat is what they will inherit in the way of a budget. Will there be any money to do the things we asked for? That will not be known until after the election.

We made it very clear to both the Minister and to the NDP members that this is an election issue.

Now, it is important that each of you understands the same. This is our one chance in the foreseeable future to make some changes in favour of our dying communities. You must reach out to everyone that you know in all regions of the Province and ask them to go to their all-candidates meetings and to ask the important questions of the candidates: will they treat B.C. Ferries as part of the highway system and fund it accordingly and will they roll back the fares? They need to write letters to the editor and spread the word via email and social media to get the word out. We are being extremely discriminated against as taxpayers of the Province. We pay taxes for all roads in the province and we pay a portion of the "subsidy" that goes to B.C. Ferries and we pay the lion's share of the operations of the vessels through user fees (fares). Does this sound fair to you?

So what are we going to do about it? Are we going to just roll over and take another kick in the side while our communities continue to diminish due to high fares or are we going to make a real fuss over this? I am hoping that you will rise up and make this an election issue that cannot be ignored. It is up to you. I am counting on you. Your ideas are welcome. This is a priority for our communities. Think! What can we do?

Other major issues

I am out of allowable space [not here on the 'boot, Jim -Ed!], so I will need to leave the issues of Q.Cove Sewer and my work with the Minister and our recycling issues for the next report!

Feel free to call me between the hours of 8:30 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday (please, not on weekends, folks!) at 285-3355, or you can fax me at 285-3533 or you can email me anytime at jimabramxplornet.ca or by mail at Box 278 in the Cove, V0P 1N0... Lots of choices.

Please do not use my residential phone number for SRD calls. All business calls should be on 285-3355. Many thanks!

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Abram
Director, Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD