General · 20th November 2013
Urgent Ferry news and information
Good evening everyone!. What a day it has been today. This was the day that the Minister was so kind as to pre-empt all of the upcoming consultation meetings and make his announcement of what they are going to do to us as a community regarding ferries.
I started calling all media outlets at 8am yesterday and continued all day to let them know of this nonsense. I also put out a media advisory for today and sent it to all BC media. Well, I should have known, from past experience, that this was going to make today pretty eventful. The media started at 7:30 am and just finished for today at 7:42 pm. We got coverage in just about all of the major BC media: TV, print and radio talk shows and news. And it will start up again tomorrow, I am sure.
I will be on the road to Nanaimo to meet with the Coastal Regional District Chairs Group and the Ministry of Transportation Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers. We will then meet with the Chairs of all of the coastal Ferry Advisory Committees to discuss strategy and compare notes.
Today was a very black day for our coastal communities, including ours. This government is not listening. They were given a solution by the resolution that passed unanimously at the UBCM and was presented by me to the Premier. The gist of it simply said to insure that the Province would declare our marine highways as an integral extension of the terrestrial highways and be treated as such and that fares would be lowered and service cuts would not happen. Simple!
In all of the talk shows that I either did or listened to today, everyone (that called in) in the province agrees that this would be the long term sustainable solution to the ferry problem. That has never happened before.There has always been a naysayer about paying more taxes. But not this time.
We have our "Community Engagement" meeting coming up on Dec. 9th., 6pm to 9pm at the Community Centre. I can only hope that every resident of our islands will be there to give them opinions on their plan. I especially appeal to the young families that are to inherit this island way of life, if they can afford it. I also appeal to seniors from far and wide to attend every meeting on the coast. We cannot suffer the arrogance and bungling of this government any longer with regard to ferries. You are the answer. Will you be there??? I sure hope so. We all need to work as hard as possible to stop these plans and stop further increases. I can not do it alone. We need to do this! We need to make it clear! We need to be strong!
NEWS FLASH! I just now returned home from the meetings in Nanaimo mentioned above. Also did interviews on CBC Almanac and CTV - TV while in Nanaimo. First of all, I want to say that it is now my firm belief along with the other RD Chairs Group members that this process of proposed cuts to service, etc., is all a diversion.. a distraction from the real problems. The points I need you to make at the meeting on the 9th are these: #1, this is all about the fares being too high; not enough riders, not enough revenue, therefore more at the fare box and more increases to come in April. #2. The government MUST recognize the coastal ferry services as essential extensions of the provincial highway system and fund them as such. They need to hear these two points over and over again at the mike. And I am going to be working on every community on the coast to do the same. ALL of the media is saying the same thing. ALL of the call-ins are saying the same thing. The govt. cannot win this one. Please hammer home these two points.
I am going to make this short, as it has been a stressful day. The other issues that you need to be aware of are:
1) The Comox Valley Regional District Solid Waste Management Board is wanting to cut out all of the education, diversion and recycling programs in the district. Got your attention yet? Yes, that is what I said. They want to stop recycling for many reasons and they have the power of the vote to pull it off. We still have time to stop this but once again, it is going to be a fight. I need your support and I will ask for it in more detail in my next report. Please keep this point in mind and talk it up with friends.
2) There will be a meeting with the Q. Cove sewer expansion area land owners on Nov. 27th., 7 to 9 pm, at the Community Centre. This will be the do or die meeting on whether or not we go ahead with an approval process such as a referendum. Come if you like. If you live in the effected area, don't miss it!
3) Had a great meeting with Island Health at the Community Centre last Thursday about "Food Security". It was attended by about 2 dozen people and came up with some really good ideas for us as islanders regarding dealing with growing, marketing and protecting our food. I'm sure there is a website, I just don't have it handy. More to follow when all the notes are compiled.
4) I met with our Highways manager last Friday and had a 2 hour discussion about all of the things that we have been trying to get for the island and what progress has been made. Many of the issues are already finished or underway and the cooperation is superb. I will detail them next issue when more are finished.
5) Last but not least! Ever been sitting in the Campbell river ferry parking lot on a hot day with kids sweltering in the back and pets panting? Well, I brought the issue up at our Ferry Advisory Committee once again, after a couple of year's break, and the committee supported it and BCFS said they would assign the terminal manager to meet with me on the issue. We have a date set for next week to look at what kind of fast growing, columnar tree we can plant all along the fence line next to the sidewalk to provide much needed shade. So, if it happens, Hurray! If not, then back to the drawing board.
That is about all I can handle for tonight. I still have reams of reports to read before bed. 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!
Jim Abram Director,
Discovery Islands - Mainland Inlets (Area C), SRD