I am finally getting used to using the "2014" number! This last year has just flown by but it has been extremely productive. I am hoping that 2014 will be just as productive if not more so. I could report to you today on a number of topics of interest, but none can compare to the importance of the B C Ferry situation. So, I will be concentrating on that issue.
As you all know by now, we are facing another 3.5% fuel surcharge prior to our next fare increase of 4% on April 1st. How many of you got a 7% increase in your disposable income recently? I doubt that anyone can make that claim. Only our beloved Ferry system and this government.
I am working on and with numerous groups and committees that are doing everything possible to reduce fares, maintain service levels and get us back into the Highway system and many events are planned for this month. Please visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JimAbram
for a number of the postings that will fill you in without reprinting them here. I will include two pieces that you may want to look at without going to Facebook . The first is a press release announcing the B C Ferry Coalition immediate action plan. (Please see the BC Ferry Coalition website at www.bcferrycoalition.com
for more information). If any of you can make it to the events, great! If not, support them by writing the letters suggested further on in this report. The release is as follows:
(For Immediate Release from our Coalition)Tell the Premier: Stop the Cuts and Listen to the People
The BC Ferry Coalition is organizing citizen rallies at seven locations along the Sunshine Coast Highway from the Langdale to Earls Cove on Saturday, January 18th from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. The rally theme is ‘Tell the Premier: Stop the Cuts and Listen to the People’. The multiple rally points are designed to maximize citizen involvement and to drive home the message that our ferries are our marine highways and should be funded as integral components of our highway system.
Citizens are being asked to bring along their own colorful signs and personalized letters to tell Premier Christy Clark how the ferry service cuts and fare increases adversely affect their families and their communities. The letters will be collected by local government officials and delivered to Premier Clark and copied to Adrian Dix, Opposition Leader and the four local governments. The seven rally points along the Sunshine Coast Highway 101 are: Langdale Ferry Terminal, Upper Gibsons at Pratt Road and 101, Roberts Creek Road and 101, Sechelt Indian Band Offices – Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt, North end of Redrooffs Road and 101, Madeira Park Road and 101 and Earls Cove Ferry Terminal.
The BC Ferry Coalition is encouraging other coastal communities to organize parallel activities within their communities and to coast-wide actions down the line.
The Province’s announcement of BC Ferries service cuts just two days before the start of the coastal ferry engagement process in 20 coastal communities, from November 20th through December 11th, sparked public anger and frustration at every meeting. That led to the creation of the BC Ferry Coalition.
Jim Cleghorn, speaking for the Sechelt Chamber of Commerce, said, “In the 10 years since 2003, when the current incarnation of B.C. Ferries was created, ferry fares have gone through the roof and ridership has gone through the floor. Clearly this experiment is not working and a new model is required. “
Garry Nohr, Chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, noted, “Our coastal community Regional District Chairs and Councilors hear from our citizens daily and I can tell you they are really angry with the provincial government. We see first- hand the negative effects of changing and inadequate schedules, excessive fares and service cuts.
The Province’s policies at BC Ferries are strangling our communities. It has to stop!”
Jef Keighley, Sunshine Coast Senior Citizens’ Chair noted there are no user fees for our highways or our inland ferries, but “the Province is all too happy to double-dip coastal residents. We pay our fair share of the highways and inland ferries, plus we’re expected to pay an increasingly disproportionate share of BC Ferries, our marine highways. The January 17th 3.5% fuel surcharge, just ahead of yet another 4% fare increase on April 1st is adding insult to injury. Coastal communities are fighting mad and are set to tell Premier Clark where to get off.”
The BC Ferry Coalition's goal is to become a strong voice for coastal communities to tell the Province to put BC Ferries on a course with fares that are affordable and deliver reliable services that meet the needs for sustainability of local communities and coastal regions. It is bringing together local governments, first nations, chambers of commerce, business, labour, economic development and tourism agencies and citizens to achieve that goal.
For more information please see the Coalition website at www.bcferrycoalition.com
or contact Jef Keighley at 604 885-2290 or you can make contact at BC Ferry Coalition 8580 Redrooffs Road Halfmoon Bay, BC, V0N 1Y1 mailbcferrycoalition.com (this is the best email to use)
Letter to the Premier, Minister and media
The second piece that I want you to take note of is the notice about writing to the Premier. It poses many good questions and allows you to formulate a personal letter so that the letters going to her will not look like a form letter, which don't really have much impact. I would hope that you copy your letter to the Minister (Todd Stone), the others listed below and to the media. The information is as follows:
Tell The Premier:
Stop the Cuts and Listen to the People!
At every one of the recently concluded BC Ferries Community Engagement meetings across 20 coastal communities, November 20 through December 11, citizens expressed their anger and disbelief over the provincial government’s mismanagement of BC Ferries and their proposed service cuts and additional fare increases. The BC Ferry Coalition is fighting back! We are 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.
The BC Ferry Coalition is asking you to write a personalized letter to Premier Christy Clarke to express how the proposed BC Ferries service cuts and escalating fares will impact you, your family and your community. Politicians pay attention to personalized letters, especially when received in large volumes. Your letter can make a difference! Don’t delay. Write today! Ask the Premier specific questions and tell her you expect specific answers. Ask your family, friends and colleagues to do the same. Flood the Premier’s desk with mail!Tell the Premier to listen to BC Ferry users whose working lives are being made ever more difficult by changing schedules, service cuts and fare increases.
Commuters working away from their home communities need reliable and regular schedules to be able to make long-term employment commitments and support their families.Tell the Premier that ferry fares are too high
making it more difficult for families to maintain their connections with other family members and friends. Tell her that the already excessive fares are strangling our coastal economies and seriously damaging our social fabric. Tell her that ferry fares should be reduced substantially which will boost ridership and help reinvigorate coastal economies and communities.Tell the Premier that BC Ferries is both a vital public service and an economic generator for the entire province and should be managed for the whole province.Tell the Premier that BC Ferries are our marine highways and you support the principle of fiscal fairness.
Provincial highways and our inland ferries are free to all users. Coastal residents should not have to pay both our fair share of the provincial highways budget plus an increasingly disproportionate share of BC Ferries costs.Tell the Premier that the 10-year experiment with BC Ferries as a quasi- independent corporation is a failure.
BC Ferries should be bought back under more direct provincial government control. All of its capital assets – the shore facilities, the fleet and replacement vessels and their financing costs - should be owned and funded as part of the provincial highways budget. Tell the Premier that BC’s seniors and First Nations Elders should be respected.
The vast majority of our Seniors and Elders live on modest fixed incomes and can ill afford the mean-spirited proposed 50% in the Seniors Travel Discount. They built this province. They should not be made pawns in a provincial government accounting game. The Seniors’ Travel Discount should be expanded rather than reduced.
Write the Premier at:
Premier Christy Clarke,
P.O. Box 9041, Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, B.C., V8W 9E1
Tel: 250 387-1715
Fax: 250 387-0087 Email: premiergov.bc.ca
Also send copies of your letters to:
Send Copies to:
Adrian Dix – Opposition Leader
5022 Joyce Street,
Tel: 604 660-0314
Your MLA – "Claire Trevena.MLA"
BC Ferry Coalition – mailbcferrycoalition.com
Your local and big city newspaper as a Letter to the Editor – Check their maximum word limit and work within those limits.
And last but not least, please send a copy to me. I will need them for my meetings with other local governments on Feb. 4th and 5th.Almost last of all… but very important...
We will be planning the "big event"
to be held in Victoria at the Legislature once they are sitting again (mid-February). This event will involve all coastal communities from Alaska to Washington State, the Central Coast, Sunshine Coast and Metro Vancouver. I would ask as your Director that you stay tuned for this event. You will not want to miss it. I am also going to ask anyone who is interested in helping to organize for this event to please send me an email and title it "VICTORIA EVENT", all in caps. Please include your name, your email address and your phone number and how much energy you are willing to expend.
And now .. Last of all!
I will be away from Jan. 7th until Jan. 30th. Do not hesitate to send me emails during that time… I will reply after the 31st. Shortly after I return, I will be attending the province wide UBCM Electoral Area Directors Forum on Feb. 4th and 5th to solicit the help of the rest of the Directors from the rest of the province. These would be the non-coastal Directors, many of whom live in Liberal ridings. I have asked the UBCM to add me to the agenda and give me a specific time-slot and they have granted that request. This is going to be a province wide push to get us into Highways and the government is going to have to listen to the people. That's all of us!
So, I will cut it off here and see you in a few weeks, recharged, and ready to fight the good fight on your behalf. In the meantime, please leave all messages for me at my email address: jimabramxplornet.ca.
Once I return, 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