The BC Ferry Coalition invites you to join with us in making 2014 the year we turn the provincial government around on how and why BC Ferries operates our marine highways in the service of our coastal communities.
The 10-year experiment with BC Ferries operating our marine highways as a quasi-independent corporation mandated to maximize fares and minimize government responsibility has been an abject failure. It has led to soaring fares, shifting schedules and declining service. It has created a situation of fiscal inequity where coastal communities have to pay both our fair share of our provincial highways budget and an increasingly disproportionate share of BC Ferries, our marine highways. This is wrong and it is strangling our coastal economies and tearing apart our social fabric. It has to stop!
The BC Ferry Coalition grew out of community frustration with the recently concluded sham Coastal Ferry Community Engagement process. On November 18th, just two days before the start of the so-called engagement process, with public meetings across 20 coastal communities, the Province announced their ill-conceived service cuts. Cuts that ignore coastal needs and that will severely damage our communities. They also remain bent on further excessive fare increases: 4% on April 1st this year and another 3.9% April 1st, 2015, which will make a bad situation worse! At every one of the so-called engagement meetings citizens expressed their anger and frustration at a government that appears deaf, dumb and blind to our needs. They are universally aghast at the gross mismanagement of BC Ferries by the provincial government. We can and must build an effective fight back, but we will not be effective as isolated communities. We need to work together for the good of our respective communities and for the good of our beautiful BC.
The BC Ferry Coalition’s goal is to become a strong voice for BC’s coastal communities to advocate for a new approach to BC Ferries with better schedules and lower fares to revitalize our communities. The provincial government must put the proposed service cuts and fare increases on hold and honestly consult with coastal communities as to what services are needed and then re-design BC Ferries to meet those needs. The Province needs to recognize what coastal residents have long understood, that our coastal ferries are our marine highways and they should be funded as integral components of our provincial highway system. BC Ferries is both a vital public service and a key economic generator for coastal British Columbia.
The BC Ferry Coalition is bringing together Local governments, First Nations, Chambers of Commerce, Labour, economic development and tourism agencies, business and residents. Our objective is to create a unified voice to tell the BC government to put our ferry system on an affordable, reliable and sustainable course for all ferry users.
On the Lower Sunshine Coast we are organizing what we expect will be the first of many actions designed to turn around a government that has lost its way and has forgotten who is was elected to serve. On Saturday, January 18th we are organizing 'Tell the Premier: Stop the Cuts and Listen to the People'. We have attached two documents to explain what we are planning. One is a two-page leaflet explaining the purpose of the letter writing campaign and the other is the leaflet specifically promoting our January 18th rallies, which will be held at seven locations along the Sunshine Coast Highway from the Langdale Ferry Terminal to the Earls Cove Ferry Terminal to emphasize that our marine highways are the same as our land based highways. We are asking citizens to attend whichever rally is most convenient to them and bring personalized letters to Premier Christy Clark for collection by Sunshine Coast Regional District Councilors for forwarding to the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and our four levels of government on the Lower Sunshine Coast. This is just the beginning!
We invite all other coastal communities to organize events in your communities at locations where you feel you will get the best community exposure and participation. Please let us know what you are planning and please take photos, videos, etc. so that we can promote and post them on our upcoming website, which we hope to have operational in very early January. The website address will be www.bcferrycoalition.com
. The email address will be: mailbcferrycoalition.com.
We propose that all coastal communities plan for a province-wide date to show the Province how extensive the strength of support to re-design BC Ferries for all British Columbians. More information on those plans later.
Please circulate this information to all of your networks. Print out and distribute the attached leaflets as you see fit. As many people do not have or use email please consider helping them out by way of word of mouth and providing printed copies of this information. Your initiative in helping spread the word will be critical to our overall success. Please feel free to use the BC Ferry Coalition logo as you see fit. Let's make 2014 the year we turn around BC Ferries.
Defend Our Marine Highways! Defend Our Coastal Communities!
I would also take this opportunity to add that the job of turning around Christy Clark and the provincial government on BC Ferries is going to take a lot of work by a lot of people as well as financial resources. We intend to run the BC Ferry Coalition via volunteer effort, but there will be unavoidable expenses incurred to coordinate and promote the work around our coasts and across the province. Any financial contribution you may be able to make to help fund this significant undertaking with be both appreciated and acknowledged. We are setting up a bank account with proper accounting procedures and signing officers and we will issue receipts for all donations received. Due to the pointedly political nature of the Coalition's work it will not be possible to offer charitable tax receipts. Cheques can be made out to the 'BC Ferry Coalition' and can be sent ℅ my address for the moment.
Jef Keighley for the BC Ferry Coalition
8580 Redrooffs Road, Halfmoon Bay, BC V0N 1Y1
604 885-2290 home
778 999-1950 cell